At Least 52 Officers and Conscripts Killed in Egypt Gun Battle

The militants reportedly belong to the Hasm group, which has launched several attacks against police forces in the past.

The militants had opened fire as the police moved in to apprehend them.

"A number of policemen" were killed in the operation, said the Egyptian interior ministry but did not reveal the exact casualty figures from the confrontation.

Security sources on Friday said authorities were following a lead to a militant camp in the desert where eight suspected members of Hasm Movement were believed to be hiding.

However, the statement added, terrorists started firing at the security forces with heavy machine guns from all directions as they approached their hideout, causing 12 officers and four police conscripts dead, 13 injured and one missing. "Islamic State" (IS) militants based in the Sinai Peninsula have also increased attacks across the country recently.

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Egypt is now battling an Islamist insurgency.

The statement said that the forces were looking for terrorists in the surrounding areas. The group has claimed attacks around Cairo targeting judges and police. The Muslim Brotherhood denies this.

Egypt has been under a state of emergency since April when a twin church attack killed scores.

Egypt has been fighting against a wave of terror activities that killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the military toppled former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 in response to mass protests against his one-year rule and his now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group. It is blamed for the killing of hundreds of soldiers and policemen and has started to target other areas, including Egypt's Christian Copts.

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