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Senior military officer shot dead near Cairo

Brigadier General Adel Ragaie, a senior officer in the Armed Forces, has been shot dead in front of his house in Obour City, 35km north-east of Cairo.

Ragaie, head of the Ninth Armored Division, was shot by armed assailants as he was leaving his home early this morning, reported privately owned daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, citing a security source.

The victim’s sister-in-law Hoda Zein Elabedine told Agence France Presse (AFP) that Ragaie died around 6am and was killed in a hail of bullets, saying “I can’t tell you if it was six or 12 bullets. It was before he could get into his car.”

According to media sources close to Al-Jazeera, Ragaei oversaw the destruction and flooding of tunnels that ran under the Rafah border to the Gaza strip, which provided a lifeline for residents of the besieged territory.

A group called Lewaa al-Thawra (Revolution Brigade) has claimed responsibility for the assassination, according to the BBC.

They published a Tweet on Saturday afternoon which reads: “A group of our fighters eliminated the criminal Adel Ragaei, one of Sisi’s militia leaders, this morning shooting him in the head and taking his weapon.”

Abdullah Kamal, a specialist in Islamist movements and a journalist for the BBC, wrote in a Facebook post that the group first came to prominence when they attacked a group of policemen in Monofeya in August. The attack killed two and injured five others, including two civilians.

Kamal noted that Ragaie’s death is the first political assassination of a military figure since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted from office in 2013.

Ragaie’s death is the latest in a series of attacks on security services in recent months. North Sinai in particular, where many militant groups are based, has seen an uptick in carefully planned, large-scale attacks on security targets. Last Friday, armed militants ambushed a checkpoint in the area, killing 12 people, including two officers, and wounding eight others.

Several recent attacks also targeted state actors outside of North Sinai. In late September a senior prosecutor in an eastern suburb of Cairo was targeted by a car bomb. He survived and only one passerby was injured.

In August, former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa also survived an attempt on his life in 6th of October City, when armed men opened fire on him as he entered Fadel Mosque to lead midday prayers. Gomaa has been a vocal critic of Islamist groups and a staunch supporter of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

In a sermon delivered after the assassination attempt, Gomaa claimed the incident was intended to distract people from the celebrations marking the anniversary of the new Suez Canal passageway. He used the opportunity to emphasize that Sisi was on the right path.

In June last year, prosecutor general Hesham Barakat was killed by a car bomb as his motorcade drove away from his home. This was the first assassination of a prosecutor general in Egyptian history.

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