Cops: Egypt Attackers May Be Dead
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Prosecutors are investigating witness accounts suggesting that Muslim militants who massacred 58 foreign tourists last week killed themselves as well.
The Interior Ministry has said police killed the six gunmen in a shootout after the Nov. 17 massacre. The attack at the Temple of Hatshepsut, near the southern Egyptian city of Luxor, was the deadliest in militants’ 5-year-old campaign to oust Egypt’s secular government and replace it with an Islamic state.
Reports immediately after the attack claimed that five attackers who fled the temple killed each other in a mass suicide. Police denied that.
Today, police officials said on condition of anonymity that prosecutors were questioning witnesses who claimed that all the militants were already dead when police tracked them to a nearby cave.
One witness claimed that a lone police officer arrived after hearing gunfire from inside the cave where the militants had fled. The witness said the officer was carrying a gun too small to kill all five heavily armed militants.
Police sources said coroners were trying to determine whether the militants were killed by police bullets or shots from their own machine guns.
Police have identified only one attacker: Midhat Ahmed Abdel Rahman, who they say was a well-known Muslim militant trained in Afghanistan. The opposition Al-Wafd newspaper said photographs of the others have been sent to prisons where jailed militants might be able to identify them.
The newspaper said photos also were being shown to owners of police uniform shops, where investigators believe assailants bought the disguises they wore to gain access to the temple.
Also today, security officials revealed that the Interior Ministry has put together a list of 300 Muslim militants wanted in attacks on Egyptian government officials. Some of them have already been sentenced to death in absentia.
The officials said many of those militants live in Britain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and said Egypt will ask for their extradition.