Egypt’s Interior Ministry announced that police forces killed three members of the militant group Hassm and arrested 14 others as part of a security campaign against the group underway in eight of the country’s 27 governorates.
In a statement issued on Friday, the ministry said its forces raided hideouts of the group in the governorates of Qalyubiyah, Daqahliyah, Beheira, Monufia, Sharqiyya, Assiut and Fayoum.
The statement asserted that the three men were killed in an exchange of fire that ensued after a Cairo apartment was raided as part of the operation. The apartment was located in a social housing building under construction and was being used as a militant base, according to the Interior Ministry.
The Interior Ministry only revealed the identity of one of the three men it said were killed, referring to him as “the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist Salah Eddin Attiya Ibrahim Emara.” The statement mentioned that three automatic weapons, as well as a large amount of ammunition, were found at the site of the incident.
Friday’s operation came after information collected by the National Security Agency (NSA) regarding anticipated terrorist attacks by Hassm members before and during Egypt’s March presidential election, the statement said.
The police operation follows the United States State Department’s decision to designate Hassm and the militant group Lewaa al-Thawra as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) on January 31. The United Kingdom listed the groups as a terrorist organization in December 2017.
The Interior Ministry statement added that intelligence and an inspection of the weapons seized in the raid revealed that some of those killed and arrested on Friday were involved in violent operations against police forces. The minister asserted that some of the men were implicated in the murder of NSA officer Ibrahim Azazi Sherif last July in Qalyubiya, as well as an attack on police officer Ahmed Hussein in June 2017 in the Daqahliya Governorate city of Mansoura, among other attacks on Egypt’s security forces.
In October 2017, Hassm claimed responsibility for an alleged attack on the Myanmar Embassy in the central Cairo district of Zamalek, which the embassy itself later denied. The group also claimed responsibility for a May drive-by shooting in Nasr City, a neighborhood in east Cairo, which killed two commissioned police officers and one enlisted officer stationed at a checkpoint. The Egyptian government has since intensified its crackdown on the group, which is based in Egypt and became active in 2016.
Hassm’s first operation resulted in the death of Mahmoud Abdel Hameed, the head of investigations in the Fayoum Governorate’s Tamya district. The group has also claimed responsibility for the attempted assassination of former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa outside his home in the Cairo suburb of 6th of October City.