CAIRO — Egypt’s deadliest terrorist group said one of its founders, who led a 2011 terror attack in Israel, has been accidentally killed by a bomb.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which has spearheaded a low-level insurgency against Egyptian soldiers and police, said Tawfiq Mohamed Fareej was killed last week when a car accident set off a bomb he was carrying.
The group, whose name means “Partisans of Jerusalem” in Arabic, has claimed some of the deadliest attacks on Egyptian security forces since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last July.
One of the group’s founders, Fareej was the “field commander” of an August 18, 2011 cross border terrorist raid into Israel that killed 8 Israelis, the group said in a statement on Friday.
In the 2011 attacks, a squad of gunmen fired at a civilian bus heading toward Eilat on Route 12, hitting a number of passengers. Within an hour, gunmen had riddled another passing bus and two cars with bullets and rigged a roadside bomb that detonated under an army jeep rushing to the scene. At the same time, mortar gunners in Gaza opened fire at soldiers along the Gaza-Israel border fence.
Eight Israelis — six civilians and two security forces personnel — were killed in the attacks.
IDF forces eventually killed seven of the terrorists, although it was unclear how many were involved in the attack.
Fareej also reportedly masterminded attacks on a gas pipeline to Israel, the group said in a statement posted on militant Islamist Internet forums. Fareej was also involved in a failed assassination attempt against the Egyptian interior minister in September.
The report of Fareej’s death could not be independently verified, nor could his involvement in the August 2011 attack.
The Sinai Peninsula-based group said Fareej moved to mainland Egypt in early 2013 and “oversaw the group’s branch that carried out many operations against the regime of traitors and collaborators.”
The group has claimed a series of high profile attacks in Sinai and mainland Egypt, including bombings of police headquarters and the downing of a military helicopter with a heat-seeking missile.
AP contributed to this report.