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Islamic State claims responsibility for killing Egyptian general in Sinai

Several military officers have been assassinated in recent weeks as militants step up attacks in Sinai
Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed in an insurgency led by IS in the rugged, thinly populated Sinai Peninsula (AFP)

Militants killed an Egyptian general on Friday near his home in North Sinai, the military said, the second official of his rank to be shot dead in recent weeks.

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack in which gunmen opened fire on Brigadier General Hesham Mahmoud Abualazm from a moving car in El-Arish, North Sinai's provincial capital.

He was on a visit to El-Arish, where he owned a house, and does not serve in Sinai, security sources said.

Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed in an insurgency led by IS in the rugged and thinly populated Sinai Peninsula.

Attacks have increased since the military overthrew president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest movement, in mid-2013 after mass protests against his rule.

A new group calling itself Louwaa al-Thawra, or the Revolution Brigade, claimed responsibility for killing Brigadier General Adel Rajaaie on 22 October in the same way as Abualazm.

Gunmen opened fire on Rajaaie, an armoured division commander who had served in troubled northern Sinai, as he left his home in Obour city to go to work, his wife told Reuters on the same day as his death.

"Minutes after he left the house I heard gunfire, I went out to find him covered in blood ... he received a lot of bullets ... He died instantly," said Samia Zain El Abedeen.

Egyptian authorities said earlier on Friday they had arrested leaders and members of Louwaa al-Thawra and another recently emerged militant group, the Hasam Movement, and confiscated with weapons and explosives.

Authorities also said they had proof the organisations had been established by the Brotherhood, which says it is a non-violent movement.

Another senior military officer and a soldier were killed last Saturday in North Sinai in a roadside explosion.

In late September, unidentified assailants gunned down a police general on a street in the Sinai Peninsula, according to an interior ministry statement.

General Ahmed Abdel Satar was the second senior police officer to be killed in three days in El-Arish.

A few days prior to Satar’s death, assailants killed General Khaled Kamal Osman as he inspected a police unit, in a drive-by shooting claimed by the militants' Egyptian affiliate, IS Sinai Province.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian judge who tried former president Morsi in 2015 survived an assassination attempt on Friday when a parked car exploded as his vehicle drove by, the Interior Ministry said.

The target was Judge Ahmed Aboul Fotouh, who presides over a felony court in a district of Cairo. The blast caused no injuries, the ministry said in a statement.

Judges, policemen and senior officials have increasingly been targeted by militant groups angered by hefty prison sentences imposed on members of the now-outlawed Brotherhood. 

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