A police officer and three “terrorist elements” were killed in a gunfight after authorities surrounded a “terrorist hideout” in Upper (southern) Egypt, according to a Thursday statement issued by the Interior Ministry.
“After receiving information on fugitive elements involved in earlier acts of violence, our forces managed to arrest one of them, identified as Eid Hussein Eid Suleiman,” the statement read.
The ministry did not say when Suleiman had been arrested.
According to the same statement, Suleiman had provided police with information about a “terrorist cell” active in Upper Egypt -- the ministry did not say where exactly -- that was “responsible for several recent terrorist attacks”.
One of these, the ministry said, was last December’s bomb attack that killed at least 25 people in Cairo’s main Coptic Christian cathedral.
“After surrounding the terrorist hideout on Thursday, our forces came under intense fire, leading to a gunfight in which five people -- a police officer, two terrorist elements and Suleiman, our informant -- were killed,” the ministry statement read.
The ministry’s version of events has yet to be verified by an independent source.
Rights groups, for their part, have accused the Egyptian security services in the past of committing extrajudicial murders and killing civilian suspects in their custody.
Egypt has remained dogged by violence since 2013, when the army ousted and imprisoned Mohamed Morsi, the country's first freely elected president and a Muslim Brotherhood leader.
Since then, Egypt’s post-coup regime has waged a relentless crackdown on dissent, killing hundreds of Morsi’s supporters and Brotherhood members and throwing tens of thousands behind bars.
*Reporting by Mohamed Mahmoud; Writing by Ali Abo Rezeg
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