At least 35 Egyptian policemen perished Friday in an Islamist ambush in the western desert, southwest of Cairo, one of the deadliest reports since the launch in 2013 of a series of extremist attacks against security forces.
Security and medical sources have confirmed this assessment that could be revised upwards.
This attack on Egyptian security forces comes as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi prepares to attend the 75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein on Saturday, marking a decisive victory for the Allies against the fascist forces. during the Second World War.
The head of state has maintained his move in the northern city, but canceled other commitments in the day, said the presidency to AFP .
On Saturday, at the entrance to the area where the deadly clash took place the day before, two truck drivers who were leaving the ambush site told AFP that the security forces were present there. mass and that “planes flew over the area”, located less than 200 kilometers from Cairo.
The Interior Ministry said security forces, who were tracking Islamist militants in the area, were attacked late Friday on the road to Bahariya Oasis, less than 200 km from Cairo.
This oasis has long been a popular tourist destination.
Several “terrorists” were also killed in the clashes, said the ministry without giving any figures on the number of police and dead attackers.
According to a source close to the security services, the convoy of Egyptian forces was targeted by rocket fire. Explosive devices were also used by the attackers.
The attack was not claimed. A false claim of the extremist group Hasm, relayed by several Egyptian media, was posted on social networks soon after the facts. But Hasm’s Twitter account, where their claims are usually broadcast, was inactive since Oct. 2.
– Army hit hard –
Since the army, then led by General Al-Sisi, in 2013 removed the democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, extremist groups have increased the attacks on the military and the police.
The Egyptian authorities are mainly fighting against the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, which is stepping up attacks, particularly in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, a region in eastern Egypt.
Hundreds of soldiers and police have perished in these attacks over the past four years.
One of the deadliest attacks killed at least 21 soldiers at a military checkpoint in Sinai on 7 July.
In September, an IS attack on a police convoy in Sinai killed 18 people.
More recently, on October 13, six Egyptian soldiers were killed by “terrorist elements” in an attack in northern Sinai, according to the army.
For its part, the extremist group Hasm has claimed since 2016 several attacks against the police, officials and judges in Cairo.
In their demands, these groups have never reported an affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Under the effect of a severe repression, this movement, which for a long time was the main opposition force in Egypt, split into several rival tendencies, divided between supporters and opponents of the use of violence.
The IS in Egypt, unlike Iraq or Syria, has not been able to seize urban centers. He leads attacks against the security forces, but also against the Coptic Christian minority.
Between late 2016 and April 2017, over 100 Copts were killed in three attacks in Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta (northern Egypt).
The Egyptian president extended for three months, starting on October 12, and for the second time the state of emergency declared in April. His regime is much criticized by human rights defenders who believe he has muzzled all forms of opposition.