Egyptian security forces on Tuesday killed seven suspected militants in a shootout in Cairo, the Interior Ministry said, amid tight security as the country’s Coptic Christians start the Holy Week leading up to Easter next week.
A police officer was also killed during the hours-long firefight which erupted when security forces raided a suspected militant hideout at a residential building in Cairo’s Amiriyah district, the ministry said. Three police agents, including an officer, were wounded.
The ministry, which oversees police, said the forces seized weapons and ammunition in the raid. It said the suspects were planning attacks on the country’s Coptic Christians during the Holy Week and Easter Sunday.
Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Christians, one the world’s oldest Christian communities, would celebrate Easter on April 19. Pope Tawadros II, the spiritual leader of the country’s Coptic Orthodox Christians, mourned the death of Lt. Col. Mohammed el-Houfi.
The country’s chief prospector ordered an investigation into the incident. The Egyptian Interior Ministry said the raid ended about 9pm local time and all militants in the group were killed.
Videos on social media showed a building in the Al Amireya district being surrounded by security forces while a barrage of gunfire could be heard in the background.
Security forces have been fighting an insurgency led by ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula in north-east Egypt since February 2018.