The Ministry of Interior has released its official account of the Friday killings of nine men in Greater Cairo, after conflicting reports initially surfaced. The account accuses the men killed in the raid of having participated in two of the largest recent militant attacks witnessed in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
The Ministry of Interior’s statement says that, as part of its pre-emptive campaign to target militant groups, it carried out a raid on a house in the town of Ossim in Giza governorate. Security forces engaged in a fire-fight with the men, with the militants reportedly using gun shot and grenades, resulting in the nine deaths over a period of several hours on Friday.
In an examination of the men’s bodies after the fight, the ministry said three were found to have been wearing belts of explosives. The statement accuses the men of preparing militant attacks scheduled for the Eid Al-Adha public holidays.
It was reported that no individuals were arrested, although the ministry did say that three officers were injured and two soldiers were shot and were taken to hospital for further treatment. The Ministry of Interior said it recovered numerous automatic rifles, ammunition, explosives and grenades, as well as a vehicle and a motorcycle, both without licences.
Local media websites published photographs, allegedly taken by police and the prosecution, of the accused terrorists. The bodies, which were found in various locations, show severe injuries: at least two bodies appear to have been moved and altered, as apparently evidenced in circulated photographs. In one set of photos, published by Sada El-Balad, the body of a man lies on his back with a missing leg and severe chest wounds; in another photo published by Youm7, the limbs and head of the deceased have been moved, with the body photographed next to grenades.
The Ministry of Interior reported that it has information connecting those targeted on Friday to numerous deadly terrorist attacks that have targeted police, the armed forces, the judiciary, and vital state installations. In particular, the ministry connected the men to two significant attacks in recent months, namely: the August bombing of a national security building in the Greater Cairo Governorate of Qalibuya; and the bombing of the Italian Consulate in Downtown Cairo in July. Both attacks were later claimed by a branch of Islamic State in Egypt.
Earlier on Friday, local media reported Ministry of Interior sources as identifying the militants as Muslim Brotherhood members. Other reports, including by state-owned news agency MENA, said that five men were arrested, whilst state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported that nine men were arrested.
“The [Muslim] Brotherhood members clashed with security forces,” an official told Reuters on Friday, adding that they were meeting to plan what he said were “terrorist attacks”.
In a bloody fight against internal militant attacks in the country, Egypt’s security forces have been accused on numerous occasions of carrying out extra-judicial executions of individuals they accuse of being terrorists.
In July, 13 leading members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood were killed in a police raid on a 6th of October City apartment. While the Ministry of Interior accused the men of preparing militant attacks, family members said the men were engaged in charity work, and were executed.
In August, five men, who the Ministry of Interior accused of being Muslim Brotherhood members involved in planning and carrying out attacks, were shot dead in Fayoum. The ministry said the men died in a firefight with security forces; however, Daily News Egypt spoke to family members and witnesses who claimed the men were arrested and then shot dead.
Following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood was branded a terrorist organisation by court order and has faced a widespread crackdown on their activities. Hundreds of affiliated NGOS have been closed down, with many members arrested. Muslim Brotherhood members accuse the government of political persecution.