The Egyptian Army and Air Force reported killing a combined number of 3 militants in central Sinai and the arrest of a fourth, according to a statement made by the military spokesperson this morning, which did not mention when this took place. The Interior Ministry also announced the killing of 6 militants on Saturday: 2 in Giza, reported as members of the Hassm armed movement, and another 4 in the Suez city of Ismailia, killed in a shootout with police forces.
The past weeks have witnessed a number of violent incidents such as the killing of 5 policemen on Friday, after unidentified gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in Giza’s Badrasheen neighborhood. The Interior Ministry arrested 4 suspects in the attack, which came a week after a Hassm operation that resulted in the assassination of Ibrahim Azazi, a national security police officer in Qaliubiya. No group has claimed responsibility for the Badrasheen attack thus far.
On Friday, two tourists were killed and another four were injured in a knife attack in the Red Sea resort city of Hurghada. This was followed by an incident on Saturday in which the guard of Alexandria’s Two-Saints Church sustained a number of injuries after being attacked by a man using a cutter as a weapon.
In light of these attacks, the Egyptian Church announced the cancellation of church trips until the end of July for security reasons.
Al-Masry al-Youm reported that the Interior Ministry issued a maximum security alert in several governorates in the middle and south of Upper Egypt and are implementing additional security measures in monasteries and churches located in Upper Egypt’s mountainous areas.
The Egyptian government’s pursuit of militants — especially those affiliated with Hassm — intensified last week following the assassination of Azazi. In addition to the two Hassm members reportedly killed on Saturday, the government also announced the death of another in the Fayoum governorate on Tuesday, and a fourth on Wednesday in Cairo’s al-Marg district.
Hassm rose to prominence during the past year, claiming several violent attacks on security forces and state officials. These included an attack in Giza’s Haram neighborhood last December which killed 6 policemen, 2 of whom were officers. The group also attempted the assassination of Judge Ahmed Abul-Fotouh by planting an explosive device near his home in Cairo’s Fifth Settlement suburb last November.
The group also attempted to kill the Deputy Prosecutor General, Zakariyya Abdel-Aziz Osman, last September by attacking his convoy near his house, after attempting to assassinate Egypt’s former Mufti Ali Gomaa a month earlier, also close to his home.
Hassm’s activity began last July with the killing of Major Mahmoud Abdel-Hamid, the head of investigations at the Tamia police station in the Fayoum governorate, which remains one of the group’s main areas of operation, along with Beni Suef and Giza.