Aug 25, 2:02 PM EDT

Kidnapped Egyptian policeman shot dead in Sinai



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El-ARISH, Egypt (AP) -- A police driver kidnapped earlier this week was publicly shot dead on Thursday by suspected militants from the local Islamic State affiliate in Sinai, Egyptian security officials said.

They said three masked militants and the policeman arrived at the residential al-Masaeed district of the coastal city of el-Arish in a green pickup truck. The policeman, blindfolded with his arms and legs tied by a robe, was then brought out and shot twice in the head before the militants returned to the car and sped away.

The policeman was kidnapped by militants Tuesday while driving a police car in el-Arish.

Brazenly killing captives by militants in broad daylight is not uncommon in northern Sinai, where the Islamic State group seeks to intimidate residents and deter them from cooperating with authorities. The group has in the past released videos purporting to show the killing of alleged informers.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Militants have been fighting security forces in the Sinai Peninsula for years, but the insurgency grew deadlier and broader after an Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, was ousted by the military in 2013. The government has repeatedly declared the insurgency crushed, only for news of continued fighting to emerge later.

The Egyptian military announced on Aug. 4 the death of the IS leader in Sinai, saying he was killed along with several key aides and 45 members of the group. It said the leader, identified as Doaa al-Ansari, was killed by counterterrorism forces backed by warplanes south of el-Arish.

In an Aug. 17 statement, the group acknowledged the death of al-Ansari along with "brothers in the jihad" and said he was succeeded by "Sheikh Abdullah," for whom it did not give a full name or any other details.

The authenticity of the statement, posted on social media accounts known to be sympathetic with or linked to IS, could not be independently verified, but its language appeared to conform to past pronouncements by the extremist group.

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