Egyptian security forces storm Kerdasa to expel pro-Morsi militants from tourist town

Police chief killed during raid, which had been held by Islamists for a month

Egyptian security forces backed by armoured vehicles and helicopters stormed a tourist town near the Great Pyramids today. The raid was part of a renewed campaign by the military-backed government to put down armed Islamist supporters of the ousted president, Mohammed Morsi.

Militants took control of the town just outside Cairo more than a month ago during a nationwide backlash of violence by Islamists enraged by the military coup in July that removed Mr Morsi and by the crackdown against his supporters that followed.

As they moved into Kerdasa at around 6am, troops and police came under fire from gunmen on rooftops. Nabil Farag, a police general, was shot in the first moments of the battle and pronounced dead in hospital.

Earlier in the week, security forces had stormed Dalga, a town in southern Egypt, to break the hold of Islamic militants who had seized control there.

Kerdasa, in an agricultural area west of Cairo, was once a village but has swelled into a densely populated town which carries more strategic importance than Dalga.

It is a short drive from Cairo’s centre and is about three miles from the Pyramids of Giza, Egypt’s chief tourist attraction. Kerdasa itself was a popular stop on tourist itineraries because of its shops selling traditional carpets and clothes.

Armed Morsi supporters drove police out of the town in mid-August, when a mob of Islamists attacked the local police station. They killed 15 policemen and mutilated their bodies, dragging some by cars, scalping at least one and pouring acid on another. It was part of a wave of retaliatory violence after security forces cracked down on the main pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo with heavy assaults that killed hundreds.

Authorities named more than 140 people suspected of involvement in the police killings, including several members of Gamaa Islamiya, a hardline group that waged an armed insurgency in the 1990s. The group later renounced violence and was a strong Morsi ally before and during his year in office.

Today, a large combined force of troops and police officers surrounded Kerdasa, blocking entrances with armed vehicles, as security forces moved into the town. State TV said security forces were using loudspeakers to urge residents to stay indoors to avoid the crossfire.

General Hani Abdel-Latif, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said police planned to besiege the town working in tandem with the army, which would then deploy special forces to round up armed men.

“There will be no retreat until it is cleansed of all terrorist and criminal hideouts,” he said in a statement.

General Medhat el-Menshawy, a  senior police commander at the scene, said police arrested 55 suspects in house-to-house raids in Kerdasa. Egypt’s official news agency said those detained included three men suspected of involvement in the killings of the policemen.

The scale and rapidity of the raids on Kerdasa and Dalga point to a new push by authorities to restore law and order in the country. Egypt has been rocked by unrest and violence from the time its autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011.

AP

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album