At Least 52 Egyptian Police Killed in Raid on Islamist Militant Hideout

By detonating explosive devices and being positioned on higher ground, Muslim Brotherhood-linked group inflicted heavy casualties on Egyptian security forces

File photo: A member of the special police forces stand guard in Cairo, Egypt.
MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY/REUTERS

At least 52 Egyptian police and conscripts were killed and six more wounded in a gun battle on Friday during a raid on a suspected militant hideout in the western desert, three security sources said on Saturday. 

Sources had said late on Friday at least 30 police were killed. Egypt is battling 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. 

A number of suspected militants were also killed and security forces are continuing to comb the area, a statement by the Interior Ministry said after the attack.

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.

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

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

The suspected militants tried to flee after the exchange of fire, the sources said, and continued to fire from higher ground at a second security unit called in for backup. They also detonated explosive devices.

Two security sources said 8 security personnel were injured in the clashes, while another source said that four of the injured were police officers and four others suspected militants.

Egypt accuses Hasm of being the militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group it outlawed in 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood denies this.

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.