Armed militants killed at least 52 police officer in Egypt

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International desk, October 21: At least 52 Egyptian police officers were killed in a shoot-out during a raid on a suspected militant hideout in Egypt’s western desert, two security sources said on Friday.

Sources had said late on Friday at least 35 police were killed.

A number of suspected militants were also killed and security forces are combing the area, a statement by the Interior Ministry said.

The sources said authorities were following a lead to an apartment thought to house eight suspected members of Hasm, a group which has claimed several attacks around Cairo, targeting judges and policemen since last year.

The suspected militants tried to flee after the exchange of fire there, the sources said, and continued to fire at a second security unit called in for backup from atop neighboring buildings.

Islamist militants have launched several major attacks, most recently targeting churches in Cairo and other cities with the loss of dozens of lives.

The sources said the suspected militants also used explosive devices in the attack.

Egypt accuses Hasm of being a militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed in 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood denies the claim and says it is committed to peaceful political activity.

A militant insurgency in the Sinai peninsula has grown since the military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013 following mass protests against his rule.

Egyptian policemen inspect the scene of an attack which left five of their colleagues killed in a shooting near Badrasheen, a town some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Cairo where militants have also targeted security forces in the past, on July 14, 2017.
A statement issued by the Interior Ministry said three gunmen opened fire on a police car and then fled, killing a non-commissioned officer, three conscripts and a police employee. / AFP PHOTO / Ahmed ABD EL-GAWAD

The militant group staging the insurgency pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014. It is blamed for the killing of hundreds of soldiers and policemen and has started to target other areas, including Egypt’s Christian Copts.

Egypt is facing an Islamist insurgency concentrated in the Sinai peninsula from two main groups, including an Islamic State affiliate, that has killed hundreds of security forces since 2013.

The security sources said authorities were following a lead to a hideout deep in the desert thought to house eight suspected members of Hasm, a group which has claimed several attacks around the capital targeting judges and police since last year.

A convoy of four SUVs and one interior ministry vehicle was ambushed from higher ground by militants firing rocket-propelled grenades and detonating explosive devices, a senior source in the Giza Security Office said.

The number of dead was expected to rise, two security sources said.

Two security sources said eight security personnel were injured in the clashes, while another source said that four of the injured were police and four others suspected militants.

The Islamist insurgency in the Sinai peninsula has grown since the military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013 following mass protests against his rule.

The militant group staging the insurgency pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2014. It is blamed for the killing of hundreds of soldiers and policemen and has started to target other areas, including Egypt’s Christian Copts.

Source: Reuters and agencies