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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Egypt kills 'Sinai militant head'
Nasser Khamis al-Mallahi
Mallahi is said to have become the group's leader last year
Egyptian police say they have shot and killed the suspected ringleader of an Islamic militant group blamed for last month's deadly bombing in Dahab.

Nasser Khamis al-Mallahi died in a shootout in the northern Sinai town of al-Arish, close to the Gaza border.

Mr Mallahi was named as head of a group blamed for the triple bombing in Dahab, which killed at least 23 people.

Authorities also suspect the group of bombing the Sinai resorts of Taba and Sharm al-Sheikh in the past 18 months.

Security forces said they surrounded Mr Mallahi in an olive grove to the south of el-Arish, after receiving a tip-off, and a 30-minute gun battle ensued.

Lt Gen Essam al-Sheikh, head of police in northern Sinai, told the Associated Press news agency that an accomplice, named as Mohammed Abdullah Abu Grair, was arrested in the same operation.

'Major blow'

Police found automatic weapons, ammunition and hand grenades on them.

"This is a major blow to the terrorist group," Gen Sheikh said.

The Egyptian authorities have described Mr Mallahi as the leader of the Tawhid wal Jihad group, which they say is made up of Sinai Bedouin with militant Islamist views.

Correspondents say officials are anxious to deny that the organisation has any outside links, fearing that this could damage the country's tourist industry.

The group is not known to have issued any public statements or claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Last week police said they had killed six men wanted in connection with the Dahab bombings.

The bombings came after attacks on the Egyptian resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan in October 2004, and the major tourist destination of Sharm al-Sheikh in July 2005.


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