October 24, 2015 / 4:53 PM / 2 years ago

Militants kill Islamist election candidate in Egypt's Sinai: security sources

CAIRO (Reuters) - Suspected militants shot dead an Islamist candidate in the parliamentary election and three police officers were killed by a roadside bomb in Arish city in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula on Saturday, security sources said.

An insurgency based in Sinai and mounted by Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate has killed hundreds of soldiers and police. In recent months, it has expanded to Western targets in Egypt.

Two gunmen riding a motorcycle shot and killed Mostafa Abdelrahman, the secretary of the Nour party in Arish, just outside his home on Saturday morning, security sources said.

The Nour party, an ultra-conservative Salafist party, won 28 percent in an 2012 election but has lost popularity for backing a crackdown on fellow Islamist organization the Muslim Brotherhood, and for being prepared to join the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Egypt held the first round of its parliamentary vote on Oct. 18-19. It was dominated by a political alliance loyal to Sisi and was marked by low turnout. The second round is due on Nov. 22-23.

In Arish, the capital of the Northern Sinai province where the insurgency is mostly based, residents say the militants have threatened candidates, accusing them of cooperating with the government.

In a separate incident on Saturday three police officers were killed and eight injured, also in Arish, when an explosive device targeting their armored personnel carrier was detonated.

The Islamist insurgency gained pace after its military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist movement in mid-2013 in the wake of mass protests against his rule.

Islamic State controls large parts of Iraq and Syria, has a presence in Libya and the support of militants in Egypt seeking to topple the Cairo government.

Sisi has described Islamist militancy as an existential threat to Egypt, the most populous Arab state and a close U.S. ally.

Reporting by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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