The leader of the Islamic State group (IS) in central Sinai, Nasser Abu Zaqul, was killed in a gunfire clash with Egyptian security forces on Wednesday, said military spokesperson Tamer El-Refaie in a statement.
El-Refaie added the security forces found an automatic rifle, two grenades, an undisclosed amount of ammunition, six magazines, and a wireless communications device in the possession of the dead militant leader. He also stressed that the security forces are maintaining efforts to eradicate extremists and criminals in central Sinai.
Egypt is currently battling several militant groups, concentrated mainly in the Sinai Peninsula, since the ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
Since 2013, state security forces, represented by both the army and the police, have been engaged in violent clashes with “Sinai Province,” a group previously known as “Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis.” In 2014, the group declared its affiliation with IS and has launched deadly attacks on army and police checkpoints.
Military expert Abdel-Rafea Darwish told Daily News Egypt that the murder of Abu Zaqul does not mean the end of the terror group in central Sinai. He added that such groups have cluster cells and are used to generating new leaders after the death of any of their leaders, like what happened after the death of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, when they appointed Ayman al-Zawahiri as his successor.