Egypt army says jihadist leader killed in Sinai: Army

CAIRO (AFP) - Egyptian troops killed on Monday a leader of an Al-Qaeda inspired militant group that operates in the Sinai peninsula and that has claimed attacks against security forces, the army said.

Ibrahim Mohammed Salaima, also known as Abu Sohaib, a "field leader" from Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group, was killed in North Sinai, army spokesman Ahmad Ali said in a statement.

Egyptian security officials said Salaima was killed at a checkpoint on a road leading to the village of Toma where he had been hiding.

Salaima was wanted for his role in several attacks against security forces and military installations in Sinai, the officials said.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, an Al-Qaeda-inspired group, has claimed attacks in and outside the region.

It claimed the Sept 5 car bomb attack against interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in Cairo.

It also claimed last month's assassination in Cairo of police Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Mabruk, who was involved in an ongoing crackdown on Islamists in Egypt.

Jihadist militants have stepped up a campaign against security forces in the restive peninsula which borders both Israel and the Gaza Strip since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, killing dozens of troops and police in near-daily attacks.

Egypt has poured troops and armour into the mountainous and underdeveloped Sinai to combat growing militancy while it has waged a crackdown on moderate Islamists elsewhere.