Egypt security forces kill three gunmen in raid on armed group

CAIRO Dec 6 (Reuters) – Egyptian security forces killed
three gunmen on Tuesday, the interior ministry said, in a raid
on a hideout used by what it described as an armed wing of the
Muslim Brotherhood.

It said in a statement on Facebook that automatic weapons
were found in the house in the southern province of Assiut,
which was used by a recently emerged armed group called Hasm.

Hasm claimed responsibility in September for an
assassination attempt on a senior prosecutor, saying it was in
revenge for mass death sentences against political prisoners.

Egyptian judges have issued death sentences against
hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters since mid-2013, when
President Mohamed Mursi, a member of the group, was overthrown
by the army and immediately arrested.

The Brotherhood, which won Egypt’s first free elections
after the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule,
has since been banned and its leaders and members have largely
been imprisoned or driven into exile or underground.

Since the crackdown, other small groups, including Hasm,
have popped up and carried out attacks on police, prosecutors
and army officers.

The government says these groups are linked to the
Brotherhood. The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful organisation.

Hasm, about which little is publicly known, has claimed a
handful of attacks this year including an attempt on the life of
the former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa.

Gomaa is an outspoken critic of Islamist groups, including
the Muslim Brotherhood and had, in his former role, the final
say on whether to confirm death sentences.

The Interior Ministry statement said security forces came
under fire from the hideout as they prepared to raid it and the
men were killed in the exchange of fire. It was not immediately
possible to contact Hasm or find witnesses.

The Interior Ministry said two of the men killed were wanted
in connection with deadly attacks on police officers and a third
was a bomb maker for the group.

(Reporting by Aly Abdelaty and Lin Noueihed; editing by Giles

© Thomson Reuters 2016 All rights reserved