Egyptian security forces kill ISIS Sinai leader

The remains of a Russian airliner are seen as an army vehicle guards the crash site in the al-Hasanah area in El Arish city, north EgyptReuters

Egyptian security forces have shot dead a leader of the Sinai branch of ISIS in a gunfight in Cairo.

Egyptian security forces shot dead a leading Islamist militant suspected of masterminding and carrying out assassinations and bombings as well as attacks on foreigners, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.

It said Ahraf Ali al-Gharabali, described as a leader of Islamic State's Egyptian affiliate Sinai Province, was killed in a shootout with security forces in the northern Cairo district of al-Marj.

He was killed on Sunday afternoon after police tried to arrest him.

Gharabali planned and carried out several attacks including a May 2013 assassination attempt on former Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim and the killing of at least three security officers and five conscripts, the ministry said.

He was also involved in a car bombing outside the Italian consulate in central Cairo in July, which killed one person and was claimed by Islamic State, it said in a statement.

Other attacks the ministry attributed to Gharabali included an attempted bombing at the ancient temple of Karnak in Luxor, the kidnapping of a Croatian citizen in Cairo, and the abduction and killing of a US engineer in a desert region last year.

Sinai Province has killed hundreds of police and soldiers since the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

His killing follows the October 31 crash of a Russian plane in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for bringing down the aircraft, which broke up in mid-air, killing all 224 people on board.

Gharabali was a sidekick of Hisham al-Ashmawy, a former commando who is thought to have planned a series of bombings and assasinations in Cairo for Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, an earlier embodiment of Sinai Province.

Mokhtar Awad, an analyst for the Centre of American Progress, questioned whether Gharabali was actively engaged in perations in Sinai.

"His death has little implication on the group's operations in Sinai or those responsible for the alleged bombing of the Metrojet flight," Awad said.

Additional reporting by Reuters