Senior Egyptian police officer killed during raid on Islamists

Militants were trying to take over town

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CAIRO -- Gunmen killed a senior police officer and wounded 10 other officers Thursday when security forces raided a bastion of Islamist support on the outskirts of Cairo, redoubling fears of a violent backlash against the recent military takeover.

The officer, Gen. Nabil Farrag, the assistant security director for the province of Giza, was killed when a large convoy of tanks and other armored vehicles rolled into the town of Kerdasa, across the Nile from Cairo, in an attempt to flush out Islamist militants hiding out there.

An unidentified gunman appeared to have shot the general soon after the security forces arrived in the town. In video of the shooting, the general is conspicuous in a white uniform and black protective vest, chatting at ease in an open lot with an Egyptian television news reporter. After a burst of automatic gunfire, the general falls to the ground bleeding from a wound to his side, and the reporter and others -- none injured -- begin calling for help.

The police abandoned the town Aug. 14, the day security forces killed several hundred Islamist protesters at sit-ins in Cairo and militants had stormed Kerdasa's police station in retaliation. After battering it with rocket-propelled grenades, the militants executed about a dozen officers and mutilated their bodies, according to security officials and video footage of the remains.

The attack on the Kerdasa police station was the bloodiest on the security forces outside Sinai since the military ouster of President Mohammed Morsi on July 3, which enraged his Islamist allies in the Muslim Brotherhood. Security officials say militants have killed more than 120 police officers across Egypt.

The killing of Gen. Farrag on Thursday in Kerdasa -- a rural town that is a 20-minute drive from Cairo -- was the second episode in two weeks to raise the prospect that the violence could spread to the capital, where the government forces are strongest.

On Sept. 5, a car bomb exploded on a busy Cairo street in an attempt to assassinate the interior minister during his morning commute. Although he survived, the bombing killed at least one police officer and one civilian, and wounded more than 20 others.

Security officials said Thursday that their forces in Kerdasa had briefly traded gunfire with local militants as soldiers and riot police officers began to surround the town just after dawn. Gen. Farrag was on the front lines, officials said.

The extent of the resistance to the raid was difficult to determine. The police barred almost all journalists from entering the town, but they evidently invited crews from several pro-government satellite networks to film the operation.


First Published September 20, 2013 4:00 AM


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