Egypt Forces Kill 12 Militants in Western Desert Clashes

State news agency reports that this operation was in response to last week's attack that killed 52 police

A security check point in the Egyptian western desert, May 15, 2015
AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/REUTERS

Egyptian security forces have killed 12 armed militants in the country's western desert, in an operation carried out after a deadly attack on a police convoy last week, MENA state news agency said on Friday. 

"Security forces dealt a severe blow to the terrorist elements in revenge for the blood of the men who were martyred last week in the oasis," MENA said citing a high-level security source. "Twelve terrorist elements were killed this morning in violent clashes." 

Authorities say the attack last week hit a police operation in a remote area in Giza governorate, 135 km outside Cairo. Friday's operation was in New Valley governorate, further south, which shares a long border with Libya. 

MENA did not say to which group the militants belonged. Egyptian forces have been battling several insurgencies, mostly focused on an Islamic State affiliate that has killed hundreds of police and troops in the northern Sinai since 2013. 

According to security sources, at least 52 Egyptian police and conscripts were killed and six more wounded in a gun battle last week during a raid on a suspected militant hideout in the western desert.