CAIRO: A leader of an Islamist group blamed for a spate of deadly attacks in tourist resorts in the Sinai Peninsula over the past two years was killed in an explosion on Friday, a security source said. Arafat Ouda Ali died as a device he tried to hurl at security forces closing in on his hideout on a Rafah farm near the border with Gaza exploded in his face, the source added. Security forces, tipped off by bedouin informants in the region, raided the farm early in the morning and a firefight broke out with the 28-year-old Egyptian man. He tried to throw the device at them, but it exploded in his face, the source said. Ali was wanted in connection with the triple suicide bombings in the Red Sea resort of Dahab on April 24 that killed 20 people and a failed attack on peacekeepers of the Multinational Force and Observers in northern Sinai. The security source said he was second-in-command of the Tawhid wal Jihad (Unification and Holy War) group which the authorities blame for the string of attacks on Sinai s tourist-packed Red Sea coast.
On Thursday, an Islamic militant who was one of the most wanted suspects in the bombings surrendered, according to police.
Ouda Khadr El-Shenoub, 47, left his hide-out in the Halal mountain range in central Sinai and gave up himself to the police forces besieging the area, where a number of militants are suspected of hiding, said Colonel Mamdouh El-Akhras of the north Sinai police.
His surrender brings to 10 the number of militants wanted in an April bombing at the resort of Dahab who have turned themselves in after security officials announced that fugitives who give themselves up would be treated well. The Dahab attack was the third terror bombing at a Sinai resort in two years, following a July 23 triple blast in Sharm El-Sheikh that killed more than 60 people and the October 2004 bombings of a hotel in Taba and a nearby beach camp that killed more than 30.
Some analysts have said the group (Tawhid was Jihad) may have links with Osama bin Laden s terror network, but Egypt has insisted the militants don t have international connections.
Earlier this month, Egyptian security forces claimed they had killed the leader of the group, Nasser Khamis El-Mallahi, in a half-hour gun battle in an olive grove south of the Mediterranean town of El-Arish.
El-Shenoub is the brother of Salem Khadr El-Shenoub, an alleged architect of the Sharm and Taba blasts, who was killed by police in the Halal mountain area in November along with two other suspects, his cousin and his brother-in-law.
A third brother, Mohammed, 26, is still at large, El-Akhras said.
Egyptian security forces have killed at least seven wanted militants since the Dahab blasts during a sweep of Sinai s soaring, jagged mountains and vast desert plains, which have long been a haven for criminals and smugglers. Agencies