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Egypt says security forces kill 12 suspected militants in Cairo

Firefights in two locations in Egyptian capital follow attack on a tourist bus in Giza the day before
Egypt says it has killed more than 460 suspected militants since 2015 (Reuters)

Egyptian security forces have killed 12 militants in Cairo, the interior ministry said on Monday, a day after an explosion targeted a tourist bus near the Giza pyramids.

The roadside bomb wounded at least 17 people, including South Africans, in the latest blow to Egypt’s tourism industry. No deaths were reported.

The ministry did not say in its statement that the killings were related to Sunday’s explosion. However, it said the militants belonged to Hasm, a group it accused of planning a series of attacks in the country to create an “atmosphere of chaos”.

According to the statement, security forces confronted militants in two locations, an apartment in the 6 October district used to manufacture explosives, and another flat in the al-Shorok neighbourhood containing an "implementation team".

The ministry said at both locations militants opened fire on the security forces first, with subsequent firefights killing seven suspects in 6 October and five in al-Shorok.

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The government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi accuses Hasm of being an armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood, Sisi’s main political opposition, denies the accusations, insisting it seeks change through peaceful, democratic means only.

The ministry said it found weapons and explosives at both locations, but did not reveal the identity of the suspects or provide footage of the firefights. It also did not report any casualties among security forces.

Human rights organisations have accused the Egyptian government of carrying out extrajudicial killings in its counterterrorism campaigns.

An investigation by Reuters news agency in April cast doubt on what the interior ministry described as gunbattles with armed militants, with many bereaved families and forensic experts insisting those killed were vicitims of extrajudicial executions.

Since the summer of 2015, security forces have shot dead more than 460 suspected militants in shootouts. The campaign followed the assassination of the prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat, a Sisi ally.

Sisi, a former defence minister, came to power after a military coup he led against Egypt’s first freely elected civilian president, Mohamed Morsi, who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood.