While Egyptians on Tuesday were waiting in front of their TV screens for the daily COVID-19 report issued by the Health Ministry, they were surprised by news reporting a security attack on a terrorist cell in Al Amiriya neighborhood, east of Cairo.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry said its security forces killed seven suspected militants in a shootout eastern Cairo following intelligence provided by the country’s security agency.
It said clashes erupted as the forces raided a 10-story apartment in the neighborhood, where members of the cell were hiding.
The ministry, which oversees police, said the forces seized weapons and ammunition in the raid, including six machine guns and four birdshot rifles.
During the raid, Lieutenant officer Mohammed Fawzy Al Hofi and seven terrorists were killed while three others were wounded.
The cell was reportedly planning attacks on the country´s Coptic Christians during the Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Egypt´s Coptic Orthodox Christians, one the world´s oldest Christian communities, would celebrate Easter on April 19.
Local television channels showed images of the gun battle between Egyptian counter-terrorism forces and the terrorist elements while security officers were appealing to people, through speakers, to stay away from the area.
Egyptian security forces have been battling a long-running insurgency mainly in the Sinai Peninsula, northeast Egypt, spearheaded by a local affiliate of the ISIS group.
Authorities launched a nationwide operation against militants in February 2018.
Tuesday’s raid came while Egyptian authorities are busy fighting the COVID-19 outbreak.
Former Assistant to the Minister of Interior Farouk al-Makrahy said: “the cell was planning to commit its terrorist operation during the nightly curfew, taking advantage of the states’ preoccupation with fighting the coronavirus.”