The Islamic State group has announced the death of one of its leaders in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, where a security source said 15 jihadists were also killed separately.

The Egyptian army, which launched a major offensive against the jihadists in February, killed Abu Hamza al-Maqdisi in an air raid, ISIS said on Tuesday in a message on Telegram.

Maqdisi, a Palestinian, had been in charge of planning and training for the jihadist group in the Sinai, ISIS said, without giving further details.

A security source told AFP that Maqdisi had been killed, but the army has yet to confirm the reports.

“Abu Hamza al-Maqdisi is one of the ISIS operatives who took part in their operations against the army,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The militant, who entered Egypt from the Gaza Strip, had been killed on Monday at Sheikh Zuweid, in North Sinai province, according to the source.

Elsewhere in North Sinai, a separate security source said police killed 15 jihadists during a raid in the provincial capital El-Arish.

The “terrorist elements” were killed in an exchange of fire at a farm, the source said on Wednesday without specifying whether the jihadists were ISIS members.

Jihadists have killed hundreds of police officers and soldiers in the Sinai since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Around 300 jihadists and 30 soldiers have been killed since the launch of the military operation dubbed “Sinai 2018”, according to official figures.

Journalists are not allowed to travel freely in the area although the military organised a rare visit to El-Arish for foreign media in July.

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