CAIRO – Gunmen killed a police captain and a conscript in a firefight on a desert road outside Cairo on Sunday, the Interior Ministry said, in the second such attack in three days to target Egypt's security services.
Political violence has surged across Egypt since the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July. Security forces have killed more than 1,300 Morsi supporters and detained another 16,000 -- including the ousted leader himself --in a sweeping crackdown on Islamists. Suspected militants, meanwhile, have killed more than 450 police and soldiers in clashes and attacks, the government says.
The two security men were killed early Sunday while taking part in a joint security patrol that tried to stop a suspicious vehicle on the road to the canal city of Suez, the Interior Ministry said. The vehicle's occupants opened fire before speeding off.
The ministry said Captain Ashraf Badeer al-Qazaz was killed in the firefight, along with a conscript from the central security force. A security official said initial investigation shows the gunmen were driving a four-wheel drive vehicle.
The attack comes two days after a bomb targeting a traffic post in a busy square in Cairo killed a policeman. A militant group that goes by the name of "Ajnad Misr," or "Egypt's Soldiers," claimed responsibility for the blast. The group says it is waging a campaign against police because of the government crackdown on protesters.
Sunday's attack comes as Egypt's Orthodox Christians, who make up more than 10 percent of the country's 85 million, celebrated Easter. Security was boosted around churches as worshippers flocked to them for the Easter Mass. Senior government officials, including the prime minister and the interior minister, paid visits to St. Mark's Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic pope.