Desert Ambush in Egypt on Security Convoy Kills at Least 59

At least 59 Egyptian police officers and security officials were killed when militants ambushed their convoy deep inside the western desert late Friday, security officials said on Saturday.
At least eight police vehicles were hit while driving toward what was believed to be a militant hide-out at the Bahariya Oasis, about 85 miles from Cairo, following an intelligence tip. Militants who were lying in wait raked the convoy with gunfire and rockets from higher ground, police officials said.
Police and security officials were killed, one Egyptian official said. Reuters, citing security officials, said the dead included several police conscripts.
Hasm, an Islamist militant group that has attacked judges and security posts since it emerged last year, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted online. It said it would release a video of the ambush.

After the ambush, the militants went through the disabled vehicles, seizing weapons and executing survivors, said the Egyptian official, who insisted on speaking anonymously in order to provide sensitive information about the ambush. He provided audio recordings of conversations between two police officers who had radioed their headquarters for help as they fled for safety.
“The guys are behind us, chasing us in their cars,” one officer can be heard saying. He describes being lost in the desert in the only vehicle that managed to escape the fusillade of gunfire. He was traveling with two others, one of whom was wounded.
“They took all the weapons and ammunition. We are hiding under a mountain,” says a second officer, stuttering as he speaks.
In a statement, the Interior Ministry did not provide further details of the ambush, except to say that a number of militants had also been killed. Other Egyptian officials said the police seemed to have been lured to the site of the attack by a false intelligence report.
Egypt has struggled to quell surging militant violence since 2013, when the military ousted Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president. Most of the violence is concentrated in Sinai, where an affiliate of the Islamic State is battling the Egyptian military. In the past year, Islamic State militants have widened their campaign to include attacks on Christian churches, homes and pilgrims across Egypt.
But the violence on Friday was notable for the high toll on the security forces and for its location. It underscored the growing threat from Hasm, which first emerged with a series of small, often unsuccessful, bomb attacks targeting judges and police officials.
Egyptian officials have described the group as the militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Militancy experts say there is no evidence of a definite connection, although Hasm seems to be led by disillusioned brotherhood members who have abandoned the movement’s policy of nonviolence.
Hasm claimed responsibility for an explosion outside the Myanmar Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 30, which killed no one but appeared to signal the group’s growing ambitions.
The New York Times

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