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Egyptian policeman killed during raid on suspected militant hideout

Hassam claimed responsibility for the 11 December bomb attack inside a Cairo church [NurPhoto]

Date of publication: 19 December, 2016

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A policeman and a suspected member of a newly-emerged militant group were killed during a police raid in Cairo, the interior ministry has said.

A suspected leader of a newly-emerged militant group, the Hassam Movement, and a policeman were killed during a police raid in the Egyptian capital, the interior ministry said on Monday.

Security forces raided a group hideout, where members "held organisational meetings and made explosive devices to be used in a series of hostile operations", in the 6 October district of western Cairo.

Hassam claimed responsibility for the 11 December bomb attack inside a Cairo church that killed 26 people and a 9 December bombing that killed six policemen in western Cairo.

The ministry said its forces responded to gunfire from inside the apartment, while a police official said on condition of anonymity that the incident took place on Saturday.

The group leader killed was named as Mohamed Abdel-Khaleq Farag Ali, but the ministry did not specify if any other suspects were involved in the exchange of gunfire. 

Hassam, in a statement circulated on social media, said one of its members was killed, identifying him as Mohammed Ashour Desheisha.

Attacks on security forces have escalated since the military's July 2013 ouster of Egypt's former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood group, and a crackdown on Islamists.

Analysts had warned that Islamists affiliated with the Brotherhood, though not necessarily under their control, could step up violence in the face of the crackdown.

Most attacks in Cairo have been claimed by Hassam and another little-known group, Liwa al-Thawra.

Militants in North Sinai province, at the heart of an insurgency against security forces, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in November 2014.

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