A botched raid has left more than 50 soldiers and policemen dead, according to reports. Cairo has struggled to contain an insurgency since its military led a coup against Egypt’s first democratically-elected leader.
More than 50 Egyptian troops and police officers were killed during a raid on a militant hideout southwest of Cairo, local media reported on Saturday, citing security sources.
The firefight occurred in the Bahariya oasis on the Western Desert, about 85 miles (135 km) southwest of the capital, after security forces received information on the militants’ location.
The interior ministry said a “number” of policemen had been killed as well as some militants, but did not elaborate.
Militants claim responsibility
Police on their way to a hideout used by the Hasm militant group reportedly came under attack with rocket-propelled grenades.
Hasm claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement that it killed at least 28 members of the security forces and wounded 32 others. The group has claimed responsibility for several attacks around Cairo, targeting judges and police officers over the past year.
Egypt accuses Hasm of being a militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group it outlawed in 2013 after bloody crackdown and military coup. The Muslim Brotherhood has denied any involvement in violent attacks against security forces.
Hasm are not the only militants facing off against Egyptian authorities. “Islamic State” (IS) militants based in the Sinai Peninsula have also increased attacks across the country recently.
Egypt has been under a state of emergency since earlier in the year when IS militants launched a series of bombings and suicide attacks that killed scores of Coptic Christians.
Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam, who serves as a state-backed authority on Islam, issued a statement condemning the killings.
The country has been in a heightened state of turmoil and violence since the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s first democratically-elected president, in mid-2013 following mass protests against his rule.
ls,bik/aw (AP, Reuters, dpa)