The Ministry of Interior said Monday that it killed seven people in a gunfire exchange in Assiut, after attempting to arrest them on accusations of belonging to a terrorist cell adopting the ideology of the Islamic State (IS) militant group.
The ministry said it only identified three of them so far: 31-year-old employee at the health directorate, Hassan Abdul Aal; 22-year-old law school student, Islam Saeed; and 23-year-old Mostafa El-Sayed.
The ministry said they were found in possession of five automatic rifles among other weapons and ammunition. It said they were part of a terrorist cell that was planning to target Copts and their properties in the governorate, namely the Monastery of the Holy Virgin Mary in the village of Dronka.
The ministry’s statement further said that the cell was planning attacks against police officials and some courts.
Although two large church bombings claimed the lives of at least 45 people and injured more than a hundred others, repeated extra-judicial killings by police forces raise questions on the authenticity of the suspects’ committed crimes.