updated 9/28/2005 4:22:38 PM ET 2005-09-28T20:22:38

Egyptian police shot and killed one of the alleged leaders of the July terrorist attacks in Sharm el-Sheik during a gunfight Wednesday in a mountainous area in the Sinai desert.

Moussa Mohammed Salem Badran was shot after he opened fire on police ordering him to surrender, an Interior Ministry statement said. One officer was wounded.

Two hand grenades, a gun and a machine gun were found with him, said the ministry, which oversees the country’s police. The clash took place at Halal mountain, a 5,900-foot peak near the Israeli border that is filled with caves and deep ravines.

Police have said they believe people holed up in the rugged mountain area were linked to the July 23 attacks in Sharm el-Sheik that killed at least 64 people, as well as the Oct. 7, 2004, bombings of a hotel in Taba and a nearby beach camp that killed more than 30 people.

The Sharm el-Sheik bombings were Egypt’s deadliest terrorist attacks. Two car bombs and a bomb in a knapsack ripped through a luxury hotel, a neighborhood full of Egyptians and the entrance to a beach promenade.

No specifics in arrest order
Prosecutors issued an order to arrest Badran, who was born in 1978 in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish. The ministry statement said he had a “prominent role” in planning and carrying out the Sharm attacks, but it did not give specifics.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, police said they believed Badran recruited two of the Sharm suicide bombers and there even was speculation he may have been a suicide bomber himself.

But the Interior Ministry did not confirm those reports at the time.

Badran’s family said they had not seen him since shortly after the attack last year in Taba.

Since an Egyptian police sweep in the Sinai began last month, more than 700 Egyptians have been detained in connection with the attacks, although many of them subsequently have been released. It is not known if any charges have been filed.

Sinai’s mountains and desert plains have long been a haven for fugitives and Bedouin tribesmen involved in smuggling and drug trafficking. Israel also complains that weapons smugglers use the region to smuggle weapons to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

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