CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian security forces killed three suspected militants in an exchange of gunfire at a farm they believed to be a militant hideout on the outskirts of Giza, the interior ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
“The three killed were some of the leading figures that supervise the manufacturing of explosives and the carrying out of terrorist operations,” the statement said.
Security forces arrested 10 others in the provinces of Qalyoubia, north of the capital, and Fayoum, some 60 km south of Cairo, confiscating a variety of explosive devices, automatic weapons, and other items.
The statement said the raids came as part of efforts by the authorities to pre-empt any attacks by militant groups ahead of Christmas and New Year celebrations and clamp down on members of Hasm, a group linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Hasm, a group that emerged last year and has claimed several attacks on security forces, including the fatal shooting of a policeman and injuries to three others in the province.
Egypt accuses Hasm of being a militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s oldest Islamist movement which Cairo outlawed in 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood denies this and says it strives only for peaceful political change.
An insurgency led by Islamic State militants in Egypt’s rugged Sinai Peninsula has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the Egyptian military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013 - although no official death toll has been released to date.
But in recent months, attacks have increasingly moved to the mainland, targeting Coptic Christians as well as security officers and checkpoints in and around major Egyptian cities.
A gunman killed at least 11 people on Friday in attacks on a Coptic Orthodox church and a Christian-owned shop near Cairo before he was wounded and arrested. IS later claimed the attack, though it provided no evidence for the claim.
Reporting by Haitham Ahmed and Omar Fahmy; Writing by Nadine Awadalla, editing by David Evans