A senior leader in the banned Muslim Brotherhood was killed late Monday by Egyptian police, the Interior Ministry and a Brotherhood spokesman said, although they offered conflicting accounts of the incident.
The Interior Ministry said that Mohammed Kamal and another brotherhood member died in a shootout after police were met by gunfire when they tried to raid a Cairo apartment the two were using as a hideout.
Brotherhood spokesman Mohammed Montasser, thought to represent the same hardline wing of the Islamist movement that Kamal belonged to, said that the two had been killed after being "abducted" by the authorities.
The Interior Ministry described Kamal as the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood's "military wing" and said he was responsible for directing and planning attacks on the orders of the organization's exiled leadership.
Montasser - who is thought to use a pseudonym - said in an audio statement on his Facebook page that Kamal was a member of the organization's top decision-making bodies, the Guidance Bureau and the Consultative Council.
According to one prominent analyst, Kamal was a leading member of a hardline faction that had come to dominate the brotherhood inside Egypt after the organization fell from power when the military ousted President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
Publications and writers close to the brotherhood had linked him to increasing violence by brotherhood supporters, Mokhtar Awad of George Washington University in the United States told the British House of Commons foreign affairs committee in July.
Writing on Twitter after Kamal's killing, Awad described him as a "black sheep" who had been accused by other leaders of being behind violence and had recently been pressured into resigning from his leadership positions.
"It appears possible that Mohamed Kamal's killing was extrajudicial," Awad wrote, pointing to reports of his arrest that surfaced in Egyptian media several hours before the Interior Ministry announced he had been killed.
Last year, the brotherhood accused police of extrajudicially executing nine mid-ranking leaders, including a former member of parliament. As with Kamal, police said they had been killed in an exchange of fire.
Kamal had been sentenced to life imprisonment in two terrorism cases and was also involved in the July 2015 assassination of Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat in a roadside bombing, the ministry said.
The brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, initially headed by Morsi, won both parliamentary and presidential elections after Egypt's 2011 uprising against dictator Hosny Mubarak.
However, the military under General Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi ousted the increasingly unpopular Morsi amid mass demonstrations against his rule in 2013.
Since then, the brotherhood has been banned as a terrorist organization and subjected to a crackdown that has seen hundreds of its members killed in the break-up of protests and clashes with police.
Thousands more have ended up behind bars, mostly accused of involvement in a wave of deadly violence against security forces that followed the killing of hundreds of pro-Morsi protesters weeks after his ouster.
Morsi himself and the organization's overall leader, Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie, have both received death sentences. The brotherhood and rights groups have condemned their trials as politicized.
Islamist violence against Egyptian security forces flared after the ouster of Morsi.
Most recent attacks have been the work of the Islamic State extremist group's branch in the restive and remote Sinai Peninsula, but analysts say some smaller groups, mainly active in the Cairo area, may involve angry brotherhood youth.
The brotherhood's exiled leadership continues to condemn violence and insist that the movement is committed to peaceful methods.