GUNMEN have killed six military police officers during an attack on a Cairo checkpoint.
The policemen were attacked shortly after dawn prayers yesterday.
A statement issued by the armed forces laid responsibility for the attack on a group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
“These cowardly operations will only increase our determination to continue the war against terrorism,” said Major General Mahmoud Yousri.
Yousri, chief of security in Qalubiya province, said the attackers stormed the checkpoint in Shubra al-Kheima, a northern suburb.
He said bomb disposal experts managed to defuse two explosive devices left behind by the attackers. A third bomb was detonated as it could not be safely defused.
Egyptian authorities claim the Brotherhood has orchestrated a series of bomb attacks on police and other targets that followed the overthrow of Morsi.
They have produced little evidence open to public scrutiny to bolster these claims, and most have been claimed by a Sinai-based al-Qaeda-inspired group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis or Champions of Jerusalem.
The Brotherhood denies the attacks. The Brotherhood was designated a terrorist group in December and thousands of its members have been put on trial.
A series of high-profile attacks on security forces in Cairo and the Sinai peninsula have been claimed by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which it says are in revenge for the military-backed government’s repression of Morsi’s supporters
In a statement posted on militant websites, Ansar said one of its founders, Tawfiq Mohammed Freij, was killed on Tuesday at an undisclosed location when a “heat bomb” he was transporting was set off when his car was involved in an accident. It said Freij, also known as Abu Abdullah had masterminded the tactic of blowing up pipelines to stop Egyptian gas supplies to Israel.
It called him the “field commander” of an August 2011 cross-border attack into southern Israel that targeted a bus and other vehicles near the resort city of Eilat, killing eight people.
The statement’s wording suggests Freij moved from either Sinai or the Gaza Strip to Cairo or elsewhere in Egypt in early 2013 to supervise the group’s operations, including a failed suicide car-bomb attack on interior minister Mahmoud Ibrahim in Cairo in September.
Morsi – Egypt’s first democratically elected president – is in jail facing four separate trials after being deposed by the army amid mass protests last July. The charges, which he denies, include killing protesters, spying and conspiring to commit acts of terror.
His ailing predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, was jailed having been found guilty of similar offences after his February 2011 overthrow. However, he was released, pending appeal, last August and was later admitted to a military hospital in Cairo for treatment.