CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's military said its forces on Friday killed a prominent Islamic militant in the Sinai Peninsula, part of a campaign against extremist groups that have carried out a string of attacks, bombings and assassinations on police and soldiers extending to the capital.
Col. Ahmed Ali, a military spokesman, identified the slain militant as Nour Hamdeen, calling him "one of the most prominent, dangerous extremists." Security officials said Hamdeen belonged to Ansar Beit al-Muqdis, Arabic for Champions of Jerusalem, the al-Qaida-inspired group that has claimed responsibility for the biggest attacks of recent months. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.
The group, which is active on the Internet, did not immediately comment on the death. The U.S. designated Ansar Beit al-Maqdis a foreign terrorist organization Wednesday.
Special forces troops ambushed Hamdeen on a road outside the northern Sinai village of Nouma, Ali said in a posting on his official Facebook page. Hamdeen refused to halt, so the troops surrounded him and they exchanged fire, he said.
Militants have escalated attacks, killing dozens of police and soldiers and some civilians, since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July. Since then, security forces have also been waging a heavy crackdown on Morsi's supporters, particularly his Muslim Brotherhood. Hundreds of pro-Morsi protesters have been killed, and more than 16,000 arrested.
On Friday, pro-Morsi protesters clashed with local residents in the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria, throwing stones at each other and firing birdshot. A 50-year-old protester, Abdel-Hakam el-Zamzami, was shot to death in the violence, the Health Ministry said. Eight people were injured in clashes in Fayoum province, south of Cairo, the ministry said. Friday, the day of weekly Muslim prayers, is a common day for protests.
Security forces broke up protests in the provinces of North Sinai, Giza and Minya, and local residents joined police in dispersing demonstrators in the northern city of Damietta, the state news agency MENA said. Police killed two gunmen who tried to set fire to a police station in the Nile Delta, it said.