Soldiers killed in Egypt shootout

CAIRO (TIP): A raid by Egyptian police, military and special forces on a suspected bomb factory outside of Cairo turned into an hourslong gun battle with insurgents who detonated car bombs, fighting that killed two military officers and five militants, the Interior Ministry said on March 19.

The ministry, which is in charge of police, said an investigation showed that the al-Qaida-inspired militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or Champions of Jerusalem, used the timber workshop in Arab Sharkas village in Qalioubiya province to build and store bombs. During the raid on March 19 morning, militants opened fire on security forces and set off the car bombs, sparking a gun battle that lasted several hours, the ministry said.

The fighting killed a brigadier general and a colonel, both explosive experts, military spokesman Col Ahmed Mohammed Ali said in a post on his Facebook page. Authorities arrested four suspected militants, the ministry said. In the eight months since the military removed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, violence targeting police officers and soldiers has increased, moving from the restive northern Sinai Peninsula closer to the capital. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, based in Sinai, has claimed responsibility for most of the major attacks in and near Cairo. The most recent attack came Saturday when gunmen stormed a military police checkpoint, killing six soldiers, in an area not far from the workshop raided on March 19.

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