CAIRO: Security forces killed at least 17 suspected militants in raids in Cairo and in another province, Egypt officials said on Thursday.
The raid came four days after a car filled with explosives wrecked outside the county’s main cancer hospital, killing at least 20 people in the ensuing explosion.
The Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, said in a statement that eight of the militants were killed when security forces stormed their hideout in the town of Atsa in Fayoum province, about 80 kilometers southwest of Cairo.
It said another seven were killed in the Cairo suburb of Shorouk.
The remaining two, including a brother of the suspected militant who was driving the car, were also killed in Cairo, the ministry said. It said police arrested another suspect.
Perpetrator behind Monday’s car explosion identified
The ministry also said the perpetrator of the attack on Monday was a member of the militant group Hasm and identified him as fugitive 24-year-old Abdel Rahman Khaled Mahmoud Abdel Rahman.
“This was confirmed following the DNA testing of the remains that were found at the site of the accident and based on the comparison with members of his family’s (DNA),” the statement said.
The ministry released a series of images and video purportedly depicting some of the militants and assault rifles found in their hideouts.
The statement did not say when the raids took place, or whether police forces were wounded in the clashes with the militants. It said they were members of the “Hasm’s terrorist cluster cell.”
Egypt accuses Hasm, which emerged in 2016 and has claimed several attacks, of being a wing of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
However, Muslim Brotherhood movement has denied any relation with a militant group.
The ministry said the suspects were killed in gun battles, but did not elaborate on their identity or whether there had been any casualties or injuries among the security forces.
Sunday’s blast was the deadliest militant attack in more than two years in the Egyptian capital.
Authorities said a car packed with explosives being driven to carry out an attack elsewhere collided with other vehicles and exploded on the busy Corniche boulevard along the Nile River, setting other cars on fire.
At least 20 people were killed and 47 wounded in the blast that also damaged Egypt’s main cancer hospital nearby, shattering parts of the facade and some rooms inside, forcing the evacuation of dozens of patients.
For years, Egypt has battled militants, led by a Daesh affiliate, in the Sinai Peninsula. That insurgency has at times spilled over into other parts of the country.
Human rights organizations have accused Egypt of carrying out extrajudicial executions and of trying civilians in military courts as part of the crackdown.
President Abdel Fattah al Sisi has said that the matter of human rights should be treated in the context of regional turbulence and the struggle against terrorism.
Strong security measures, he has said, are needed to stabilise Egypt after the turmoil that followed the country’s 2011 uprising.
Egypt’s military and police launched a major campaign against militant groups in 2018, focusing on the Sinai Peninsula as well as southern areas and the border with Libya.