A high-ranking Egyptian police officer has been shot dead by a militant group during an attack in the country’s restive Sinai Peninsula.
According to a Monday statement by the Egyptian Interior Ministry, Colonel Hassan Ahmad Rashad was killed in gunfire by an unidentified militant in Arish, the provincial capital and largest city of North Sinai, on Sunday night.
The Takfiri Velayat Sinai terror group later claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on social media, saying its militants “assassinated” the officer and escaped with his car and automatic rifle.
Over the past several years, Egyptian troops have been engaged in efforts to quell rampant militancy across the Sinai Peninsula.
A member of the Egyptian security forces stands guard next to a damaged bus following a roadside bomb blast on the outskirts of North Sinai’s provincial capital of Arish on July 9, 2015. ©AFP
Since September 2015, Egypt’s military has launched a high-scale security operation against the militants’ positions in northern Sinai, following coordinated terrorist attacks on several army checkpoints, which claimed the lives of 21 soldiers in July 2015.
The military’s anti-terror battle has led to the deaths of hundreds of troops and militants, including those with the Takfiri Velayat Sinai group.
Previously known as Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, the Velayat Sinai group has claimed responsibility for most of the fatal attacks mainly targeting the army and police in the capital, Cairo, and the volatile Sinai Peninsula.
The Takfiri outfit has pledged allegiance to the Daesh terrorist group, which is mainly active in Iraq and Syria.
The Velayat Sinai militants have taken advantage of the turmoil in Egypt caused by the 2013 ouster of the first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, to boost their militancy.
The Sinai desert region has been under a state of emergency since October 2014, following a deadly terrorist raid that left 33 Egyptian soldiers dead.