Egypt Forces Storm Islamist Bastion; Policeman Killed

Thursday, 19 Sep 2013 04:39 AM

 

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CAIRO — A senior police officer was killed when Egyptian security forces stormed a village outside Cairo Thursday in the latest crackdown on militants, while unexploded bombs on the tracks briefly halted Cairo's subway.

Military and police vehicles surrounded Kerdassah in the shadow of landmark pyramids after dawn, as police special forces were deployed to confront "terrorists" in the village, the interior ministry said.

Giza security chief Nabil Farrag was killed in clashes while 32 people were arrested in the operation.

Authorities slapped a daytime curfew on the village as they went door to door in search of 140 wanted men, including those behind a "massacre" in Kerdassah, in which 11 policemen were killed on August 14.

Thursday's raid comes as part of a massive crackdown on supporters of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi who was overthrown by the military on July 3.

Around 1,000 Islamists have been killed in the campaign in two months, as well as dozens of soldiers and policemen.

Morsi is himself being held by the military at an unknown location and hundreds of members of his Muslim Brotherhood are being detained on various charges.

Authorities installed by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have vowed to put an end to the recent wave of "terrorism" which they attribute to supporters of Morsi.

"Security forces are pursuing their campaign in Kerdassah and will not stop until it clears [the village] of all terrorist and criminal elements," interior ministry spokesman Hani Abdel Latif told reporters.

Television footage showed thick teargas hanging over the rural patch near the Giza pyramids, as army and police vehicles moved around deserted parts of Kerdassah, a stronghold of hardline supporters of Morsi.

On August 14, just hours after authorities launched a crackdown on two protest camps in Cairo of Morsi supporters, 11 policemen were found dead at the Kerdassah police station.

Several other police stations near the village were also torched.

Thursday's operation comes days after a similar raid on the central Egyptian town of Delga in the Minya province, which was held by hardline Islamists for more than a month.

Since the Islamists' takeover there, three churches were torched, dozens of Christian homes burned and two Copts killed, according to rights groups.

"Delga and Kerdassah are among the most negative consequences of the Brotherhood regime," Abdel Latif said.

Egyptian police and troops have launched a sustained campaign against militants and Islamists since the army's ouster of Morsi on July 3.

Meanwhile in Cairo, several subway lines serving hundreds of thousands of commuters were briefly grounded after two unexploded bombs were found on the tracks in a south Cairo station.

Bomb experts were dispatched to the scene and combed the tracks for more devices, one official said. Services resumed soon afterwards.

Egypt has been gripped by security related problems since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The unrest surged after the military's ouster of Morsi.

The army has also been engaged in a campaign in the Sinai peninsula, pouring troops and armor to crush militancy which surged after the army overthrew Morsi.

The Islamist president's removal came after millions took to the streets to demand his overthrow after his year-long turbulent rule that deeply polarized Egyptians.

Morsi is currently being held by the army and more than 2,000 members of his Muslim Brotherhood movement have been arrested.

The clampdown that has fractured the Brotherhood's organization has also seen hundreds of Islamist supporters killed in clashes across the country.

© AFP 2014

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