At least sixteen police officers were killed in a shoot-out during a raid on a suspected militant hideout in Egypt’s Western desert, two security sources said on Friday.
The sources said authorities were following a lead to an apartment thought to house eight suspected members of Hasm, a group which has claimed several attacks around the capital targeting judges and policemen since last year.
The number of dead was expected to rise, the sources said.
The suspected militants tried to flee after the exchange of fire there, the sources said, and continued to fire at a second security unit called in for backup from atop neighboring buildings.
The sources said the suspected militants also used explosive devices in the attack.
Two security sources said 8 security personnel were injured in the clashes, while another source said that four of the injured were police officers and four others were suspected militants.
Egypt accuses Hasm of being a militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group it outlawed in 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood denies this.
An Islamist insurgency in the Sinai peninsula has grown since the military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013 following mass protests against his rule.
The militant group staging the insurgency pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2014. It is blamed for the killing of hundreds of soldiers and policemen and has started to target other areas, including Egypt’s Christian Copts.