21 militants, including a prominent leader, Shahata Farhan Al-Maatqa, were killed in raids across Egypt by security forces on Friday.
Al-Maatqa, killed near the city of Rafah, had been a head of the militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. He was “involved in operations targeting elements of the armed forces and police”, Armed Forces spokesman Brigadier-General Mohammad Samir Abdul Aziz said in a statement.
The raids, which stretched across north Sinai to Ismailia, Port Said, and Daqahleya, also destroyed 11 tunnels and 13 motorcycles used for militant attacks. There was an exchange of gunfire between security forces and militants.
Raids by security forces throughout Egypt have increased in response to militant attacks since the violent dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in August 2013. The dispersal resulted in more than 900 dead protestors according to Human Rights Watch.
Dozens of attacks have been claimed by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis as well as other armed groups.
These have included a bombing which killed three security personnel outside the Ministry of Interior office in Cairo last September. That same month, 11 security personnel were killed when their convoy was hit by an explosive device in Sinai. Gunmen on a motorcycle also killed a police captain in a drive by shooting in Sohag that month.