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Egyptian security forces kill Muslim militant leader, arrest 10 others

December 13, 1997

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Egyptian security forces stormed the hide-out of a Muslim militant leader, killing the man whose group claimed responsibility for last month’s massacre of tourists at a temple in Luxor, officials said Saturday.

Before he was shot, Munir Mustapha Mohammed Abdul-Hafiz, 34, opened fire on the agents with an automatic rifle as they closed in on him in Tanta, 50 miles north of Cairo, the government said.

In addition to killing Abdul-Hafiz on Friday night, agents arrested 10 of his followers, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Abdul-Hafiz was a local leader of al-Gamaa al-Islamiyah, or Islamic Group, the most active of the militant Muslim groups trying to overthrow Egypt’s secular government and install strict religious rule.

More than 1,200 people have died since the insurgency began in 1992. But the attack on the Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor, which left 58 tourists and four Egyptians dead, resulted in the heaviest loss of life from a single attack.

In statements faxed to Western news agencies in Cairo immediately after the Luxor assault, al-Gamaa claimed responsibility for the killings. Subsequently the group’s leaders-in-exile admitted that members had carried out the massacre, but said it was unauthorized.

The Interior Ministry said Abdul-Hafiz, who had led a faction of al-Gamaa in the southern city of Assiut, was reorganizing the ``cells of the terrorist group ... and trying to reactivate it, in addition to training its members in the northern provinces.″

Most of the insurgency has been concentrated in southern Egypt in recent years, mainly in Assiut.

Abdul-Hafiz had been sentenced to death in absentia for the 1993 assassination of Maj. Gen. Mohammed Abdul-Latif al-Shimi, deputy chief of Assiut’s police, the ministry said.

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