Egyptian police officers killed in firefight with militants

The policemen were killed in exchange of fire with the terrorists in el-Wahat desert in Giza yesterday, they said.

"A number of policemen" were killed in the operation, said the Egyptian interior ministry but did not reveal the exact casualty figures from the confrontation.

The attackers also used explosive devices.

The militants reportedly belong to the Hasm group, which has launched several attacks against police forces in the past.

Two security sources said eight security personnel were injured in the clashes, while another source said that four of the injured were police officers and four others were suspected militants. But western diplomats and security officials described the death toll as in the dozens with few militants, if any, being killed.

No group yet has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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Authorities are fighting the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State group, which has increased its attacks killing hundred of soldiers and police in the north of the Sinai peninsula, more than 500 kilometres away from the latest violence.

Security has been a key point for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former military commander who presents himself as a bulwark against terrorism after leading the ouster of president Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.

The Muslim Brotherhood, once Egypt's largest opposition movement, has long denied involvement in the attacks on the authorities. Sisi was elected on a landslide a year later.

Since then, an extensive crackdown on the group has left it in disarray with competing wings that have disagreed on whether to resort to violence, after police bloodily suppressed their protests.

BBC reported that more than 50 police officers were killed during clashes, while local media said 35 citing security sources.

The country has been under a state of emergency since scores of people were killed earlier this year in bombings and suicide attacks that targeted minority Coptic Christians.

  • Sonia Alvarado