Eight Egyptian police killed in gun attack in Cairo

Local Islamic State affiliate claims responsibility; officials vow to ‘march against terror’

Gunmen killed eight plainclothes policemen just outside Cairo overnight, the interior ministry said, in an assault claimed by Islamic State. Video: Reuters


Militants have opened fire on a minivan filled with plainclothes police in a Cairo suburb, killing eight of them, including an officer, in an attack claimed by a local Islamic State affiliate.

The attack was the deadliest in the heavily policed capital since November, when gunmen attacked a security checkpoint, killing four policemen. That attack was also claimed by the local Islamic State affiliate.

Egypt’s state-run MENA news agency said the policemen were inspecting security in the south Cairo suburb of Helwan early on Sunday when four gunmen in a pick-up opened fire on them.

Interior minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar, in charge of police, ordered an investigation into the attack.

“These are the heroes whose blood mixes with the nation’s soil every day,” Mr Abdel-Ghaffar told state television at the end of a brief military funeral for the eight policemen.

“We are determined to continue our march against terror and anyone who seeks to undermine the nation’s stability,” he said, as black-clad female relatives of the policemen wailed in grief.

The coffins of the eight, wrapped in the Egyptian flag, were placed on red fire engines that led a procession of several hundred mourners, including other policemen.

An Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement, saying it killed everyone in the vehicle. It identified the officer and said the fighters seized light weapons from the police before they fleeing the scene unharmed.

It said the operation was to avenge women jailed in Egypt. The claim could not be independently verified, but the statement’s language and the nature of the attack suggest it is authentic.

Militants have been targeting security forces in the Sinai Peninsula for years, but their attacks have grown more deadly and frequent since the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

While most of the unrest has been confined to the northern Sinai, there have been attacks in the mainland as well, mainly small-scale bombings targeting police, the frequency of which had declined in recent months.