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Egypt Militants Kill 10 Policemen

October 13, 1997

ASSIUT, Egypt (AP) _ Suspected Muslim militants executed 10 policemen in two separate incidents Monday, one of the deadliest days for security forces since extremists began trying to overthrow Egypt’s secular government five years ago.

The attacks on two police stations in the southern province of Minya, 140 miles south of Cairo, cast more doubt on the government’s claims that it has crushed Muslim extremist groups.

Police arrested 19 family members of one militant, Fareed Qidwani, who is believed to have masterminded the attacks as well as 23 others in the area, according to police sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

An Interior Ministry statement said unidentified men opened fire at officers in the town of Mellawi, killing three, and ``eight bodies with bullet holes were found″ in Abu Qurqas, 20 miles to the north.

The statement did not elaborate and officials refused to give details.

But police sources in Minya said five gunmen in civilian clothes stopped a minibus in Mellawi and two of them checked the passengers’ identification cards.

The gunmen found out that three were plainclothes policemen and shot them, the sources said.

At least 10 other passengers were not harmed. The militants escaped, but the driver identified one of the attackers as Qidwani, the sources said.

Half an hour later, militants shot and killed seven policemen and a civilian police employee outside a police station in Abu Qurqas, other sources said, also on condition of anonymity. A woman also was injured.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in Minya, but suspicion fell on Islamic militants fighting to overthrow the secular government of President Hosni Mubarak and establish rule by religious law.

Minya has been a hotbed of violence between police and the militants.

The leader of Egypt’s more active militant group, the Islamic Group, called for a cease-fire in July. The government rejected it on the grounds that the insurgents already were on the run and would be vanquished soon.

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