Egyptian security forces arrest suspected ter
Egyptian security forces arrest suspected terReuters

Reuters - A group of armed men shot dead a tribal leader and his son on Monday in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on the border with Israel, a security source said, as violence escalated on the sixth day of a military crackdown on militants in the area.

"Tribal leader Khalaf Al-Menahy and his son were shot dead by militants on their way back from a conference organized by tribal leaders to denounce militancy," said the security source in Sinai.

The attack occurred during a security sweep that began on Wednesday after the killing of 16 Egyptian border guards last week, which Egypt blamed on terrorists.

The military operation is the biggest in the region since the Yom Kippur War that Egypt launched against Israel in 1973.

Lawlessness has been growing in Sinai, a region awash with guns and bristling with resentment against Cairo, since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in an uprising last year. Parts of northern Sinai have been controlled by Bedouin tribes and a growing number of Al Qaeda-linked terrorists since police deserted the area during the uprising.

Another source close to terrorists in Sinai said hundreds of them had organized a secret meeting on Sunday night to discuss their response to the killing of five Islamist terrorists by Egyptian soldiers earlier on Sunday.

"They agreed that the reaction will be harsh," the source said.

The military crackdown in the Sinai Peninsula is seen as an early test for Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi to prove he can rein in the militants whose activity near the border worries both Egyptians and Israel.

Morsi dismissed two top generals on Sunday, quashing a military order that had ruled the transition period after Mubarak and curbed Mursi's presidential powers. Last week, he fired North Sinai's governor and Egypt's intelligence chief.

Morsi's critics say the Islamist leader risks being seen as soft on jihadists because of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ties to Hamas and the party’s anti-Israel platform.