CAIRO — Egyptian security forces said Saturday that they arrested a top wanted militant in the Sinai Peninsula.
The militant, Adel Mohammed, is suspected of leading an al-Qaida-linked group in an ambush where 25 off-duty policemen were lined up and shot last week, security officials said. The attack was one of the area's worst militant strikes on security forces.
Mohammed, who an official said is also known as Adel Habara, has been sentenced to death in absentia for killing soldiers in the Nile Delta last year.
His arrest could potentially undermine militant activities in the area, where over two dozen security men have been killed since July. The security officials said two other suspects were also arrested Saturday.
Authorities have long been battling militants in the northern half of the Sinai, which borders the Gaza Strip and Israel. Earlier Saturday, security officials said 31 suspected militants have been arrested since Thursday.
In another development, Egyptian authorities reported a failed attempt to disrupt traffic on the strategic Suez Canal but gave few details.
Canal authority chairman Mohab Mamish said a "terrorist element" had tried to disrupt navigation in the waterway by targeting a Panama-flagged ship. In comments carried by official news agency MENA, he said the attempt was "completely unsuccessful" and the container carrier unharmed. He did not say how the ship was targeted.
Egyptian authorities have heightened security arrangements following the military coup that ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on July 3. The authorities accuse opponents of the coup of trying to destabilize the country, and have waged a security crackdown against members of the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, and other allies, arresting hundreds.