The prosecution ordered on Sunday the detention of 15 new defendants in the Al-Wahat shootout case, according to state media.
Nine of the 15 individuals were accused of forming a terrorist group and recruiting other members, while the other six were accused of joining a militant group in the operation targeting police and army personnel and attacking state institutions.
After Sunday’s decision, the total number of defendants in the case rose to 29, including the Libyan defendant announced to have been arrested last Thursday and appearing on TV in an interview with presenter Emad Adeeb.
In the interview, the defendant said that he participated in battles against the Libyan National Army. He added that he then travelled to Egypt to join other militant groups to engage in “jihad”.
Meanwhile, the prosecution also reportedly visited freed police officer Mohamed Al-Hayes who was liberated by the Egyptian army in a raid on a militant den in western Fayoum desert. During the raid, the Egyptian air force killed a number of militants suspected of having participated in the shootout at Al-Wahat.
The shoot-out occurred in late October when state security received information about a hideout of militants 135 kilometres away from Cairo and planned to raid the area. Sixteen police men were killed and thirteen others injured in violent clashes with the armed militants.
The Western Desert was the scene of several previous attacks, including an incident in June 2016 when six military personnel, including two officers, were killed and three others injured in a militant attack in Al-Farafra Oasis, New Valley governorate. Moreover, Al-Farafra Oasis witnessed a major attack on one of its checkpoints in 2014, with 20 armed men assaulting the checkpoint in bomb-loaded vehicles, resulting in the killing of 22 Egyptian border guards.