Egypt says 13 militants killed in western desert
CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian security forces killed 13 militants in a shootout on Friday in the country’s western desert, the Interior Ministry said, a week after a deadly shootout between police and militants southwest of the capital Cairo.
The ministry said in a statement that the exchange of fire took place in a raid on a militant hideout southwest of Cairo, based on information it received from the national security apparatus on their location. The state-run MENA news agency earlier quoted an unnamed Interior Ministry official as saying the shootout was in the New Valley province, which covers a vast area of the western desert and shares part of the porous border with Libya.
The ministry said 13 unidentified bodies were found as security forces combed the area following the shootout. They were found with firearms and ammunition in their possession, the ministry said. The statement did not say whether any police were killed.
Friday’s shootout took place in an area farther south from the region where 16 policemen were killed a week ago in a brazen ambush by militants.. Security officials had earlier told The Associated Press and other media outlets that the death toll among policemen was over 50, making it one of the worst attacks against Egypt’s police in years. The discrepancy in numbers could not be rectified.
Egypt’s government has been struggling to contain an insurgency by Islamic militants led by an Islamic State affiliate that is centered in the northern region of the Sinai peninsula, though attacks on the mainland have recently increased. The country has been under a state of emergency since bombings and suicide attacks targeting minority Coptic Christians killed scores earlier this year. Those attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group.
Egypt’s porous desert border with Libya has been the source of serious concern to authorities, who contend Islamic militants and smugglers use it as their route into the country.
This story has been corrected to show Friday’s shootout took place farther south from, not near last week’s ambush.