5 policemen killed in checkpoint attack near Egypt capital

Egypt’s state-run news agency says gunmen have attacked a security checkpoint in Cairo, killing five security forces.

Five Egyptian policemen were killed when unknown gunmen attacked a security checkpoint in Giza province, south of the capital, on Friday morning.

The assailants struck around Badrasheen, a town some 20 kilometres from Cairo, where militants have targeted police in previous attacks, police officials and state television said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

However, the shadowy militant group Hasm has claimed responsibility for similar attacks.

The group is believed to have carried out Friday’s attack in response to a police raid on Wednesday that killed one of its members.

Egypt security forces have recently stepped up operations against the Hasm, which is believed to have links to the country’s embattled and banned Muslim Brotherhood movement.

On Tuesday, the interior ministry said a leading Hasm member was killed in a shootout with police forces in Egypt’s Fayoum governorate.

The National Security Agency had received intelligence that the group’s members were set to meet in Fayoum’s village of Sinnuris to plan more attacks, according to the ministry.

The slain leader was responsible for recruiting young members and sending them to training camps affiliated with the group, the ministry added.

Days earlier, a similar operation left two Hasm militants dead following a shootout with police forces outside Cairo.

The shootouts came shortly after Hasm claimed responsibility for the assassination of a national security officer.

“The Hasm assassination squad has carried out a field execution of the criminal captain Ibrahim Azazi as he left his house in Qalyubia… One bullet in his black hear and three in the head,” the group said.

Ibrahim Azazi was killed in a drive-by shooting on Friday as he left his home in the Qalubiya governorate north of Cairo.

Last month, Hasm claimed responsibility for an attack that killed two police officers and injured three conscripts in Cairo.

It vowed more attacks in the coming months.

Egypt has been facing a deadly Islamist insurgency that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the army overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and crackdown on his supporters.

In February, an Egyptian court declared Hasm a terrorist organisation, alleging it was linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.

Little is known about the movement but analysts distinguish them with militant organisations such as the Islamic State group which has a presence in the Sinai.

All of Hasm’s attacks have been on military and security targets, while it has been portrayed as a more national-focused anti-government movement, although many suspect to Islamist movements.