Security forces kill Egypt militant leader: Officials

CAIRO (AFP) - Security forces in the Sinai peninsula killed the leader of Egypt's deadliest militant group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, along with three senior members overnight, officials said early Friday.

Several high-ranking security officials confirmed the death of Shadi el-Menei, considered to be the head of the Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem), an Al-Qaeda inspired militant group that has spearheaded a wave of attacks targeting security forces since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July.

Such attacks have been carried out in retaliation to a state crackdown on Mursi supporters that has left more than 1,400 killed and at least 15,000 jailed since the Islamist's overthrow.

Security forces opened fire on the four men as they were in a car in central Sinai, the officials said.

The group was about to carry out an attack on a gas pipeline, they added.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has claimed some of the deadliest and high-profile attacks on Egyptian security forces since Mursi's ouster, including a failed assassination attempt against the interior minister last September.

In April, the US department of State has designated the group as a "foreign terrorist organisation".

One of the group's founders, Tawfiq Mohamed Fareej, was killed in March, when a car accident set off a bomb he was carrying.