CAIRO: Egypt’s most active militant Islamist group denied on Sunday reports that its top leader had been killed days earlier in the Sinai peninsula.
Ansar ayt al-Maqdis, or Defenders of Jerusalem, rejected in an online statement claims by security sources and local media that Shadi al-Menei was killed with five other insurgents in a firefight on Friday.
“They announce the death of the brother jihadist Shadi al-Menei and that he is the (head of the group) while he was not killed and was not a leader”, the statement said.
A statement on the army spokesman’s official Facebook page said the army had carried out an operation on Thursday that resulted in the killing of six “extremely dangerous criminal elements”, but it did not name Menei and it was not clear if the statement was referring to the same incident.
Egypt has launched a wide-ranging campaign against militants in the Sinai after they stepped up attacks on police and army targets following the overthrow of elected President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist, by the military last July.
Former army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who spearheaded Morsi’s ousting, is widely expected to win presidential elections slated for Monday and Tuesday.