Egyptian security forces have killed 12 suspected fighters in Cairo, the interior ministry said on Monday, a day after an explosion blasted a tourist bus, wounding several people.
A rudimentary device containing nails and pieces of metal detonated on the perimeter of the Grand Egyptian Museum near a bus carrying 25 South African tourists from the airport to the pyramids district on Sunday, wounding a number of people.
The ministry said in a statement carried by state TV that its national security forces had information that leaders of the armed Hasm group were planning “to carry out a series of attacks during the coming period to trigger chaos in the country”.
The statement did not say whether the suspected fighters were connected to Sunday’s attack, but said the Egyptian forces killed them during raids on their hideouts in the 6th of October and el-Shorouk districts of the capital.
Egypt accuses the Hasm group, which emerged in 2016 and has claimed several attacks, of being a wing of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood movement denies the claim and has distanced itself from the group. It says it seeks change through peaceful means only.
The ministry did not elaborate on whether there had been any casualties or injuries among the security forces, but said weapons and explosives were found at the scene of the shootouts.
Human rights organisations have accused Egypt of carrying out extrajudicial executions and of trying civilians in military courts as part of the crackdown.
“Over the past five years human rights violations by Egyptian security forces, such as carrying out enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions, have occurred on a scale never seen before,” Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa campaigns director, said in a 2018 report.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has said that the matter of human rights should be treated in the context of regional turbulence and the struggle against “terrorism”. Strong security measures, he has said, are needed to stabilise Egypt after the turmoil that followed the country’s 2011 uprising.
Egypt’s military and police launched a major campaign against armed groups in 2018, focusing on the Sinai Peninsula as well as southern areas and the border with Libya.