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7 Extremists, Bystander Killed in Southern Egypt

December 29, 1994

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Police killed six suspected Muslim extremists in a gun battle Wednesday in southern Egypt, security officials said.

A truck driver who happened to be passing by died in the cross fire, they said. Meanwhile, a seventh suspected radical was shot and killed by police in a separate incident.

The violence came a day after extremists fired at a passenger train in the south, killing a police guard and wounding another.

Police have stepped up activities in southern provinces to combat Muslim extremist groups that have waged a campaign since spring 1992 to try to overthrow Egypt’s secular government and replace it with strict Islamic rule.

More than 500 people have died in the violence, many of them militants or police. The extremists also have targeted government officials, minority Coptic Christians and foreign tourists.

Wednesday’s shootout occurred after police discovered a militant hideout in sugar cane fields near the village of El-Khayara, 145 miles south of Cairo, security officials said.

The officials, who insisted on anonymity, said the men were believed to be members of the outlawed Islamic Group, blamed for much of the violence in southern Egypt.

A passing truck driver also was killed in the exchange of fire with the militants, they said.

Farther south, in a village near Mallawi, police shot and killed a suspected extremist wanted for attacks on security forces.

Egyptian and international human rights groups have charged security officials are using excessive force against suspected extremists and that deaths have not been the result of gun battles but of police opening fire first, often without warning.

Update hourly