Over 54 Egyptian policemen killed in militants’ ambush in Cairo

A picture taken on October 21, 2017 shows an Egyptian presidential guard standing guard during a ceremony to mark 75 years since the pivotal WWII battle in the town of El-Alamien, west of Alexandria, during the visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The World War II Battle of El Alamein — which began on October 23, 1942 — pitched the forces of British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s against the Afrika Korps of Germany’s Erwin Rommel. / AFP / KHALED DESOUKI

At least 54 policemen, including 20 officers and 34 conscripts, were killed when a raid on a militant hideout southwest of Cairo was ambushed, officials said Saturday. The ensuing firefight was one of the deadliest for Egyptian security forces in recent years.

Two police officials told the Associated Press that the exchange of fire began late Friday in the al-Wahat al-Bahriya area in Giza province, about 84 miles southwest of Cairo.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

The firefight began when security forces acting on intelligence moved against a militants’ hideout in the area. Backed by armored personnel carriers and led by senior counterterrorism officers, the police contingent drew fire and rocket-propelled grenades, according to the officials.

The officials said what happened next is not clear, but added that the force likely ran out of ammunition and that the militants captured several policemen and later killed them.

The officials said the police force appeared to have fallen into a carefully planned ambush set up by the militants. The death toll could increase, they added.

Those killed included two police brigadier generals, a colonel and 10 lieutenant colonels.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, announced a much lower death toll, saying in a statement read over state television that 16 were killed in the shootout. It added that 15 militants were killed or injured.

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