Egypt’s Interior Ministry said Thursday that security forces had killed at least 17 suspected jihadists in raids on hideouts in the capital of Cairo and in Fayoum province, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of the capital.
The statement said the jihadists were members of a group accused of being behind an attack Monday in which a car packed with explosives detonated outside Egypt’s main cancer hospital in Cairo, killing at least 20 people.
It was the deadliest terror attack in the Egyptian capital in over two years.
The group, known as Hasm, has links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
The ministry said at least eight members of the group were killed when they opened fire at police forces storming their hideout in the town of Atsa in Fayoum. Another seven members were killed in a firefight with police in Cairo’s Shorouk suburb.
On Wednesday, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi urged Egyptians to rally behind the government’s campaign against Islamist forces in the country, saying in a televised speech that it’s “not only the mission of the state to defeat [the jihadists], but also, we as a society have to make our sons understand, enlighten and protect them against this” extremist ideology.
Egypt has faced surging jihadist violence since the 2013 military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi after mass protests against his one-year rule.
The violence has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, where terror groups affiliated with Islamic State have been operating in recent years.
In February 2018, the Egyptian army launched a nationwide operation against Islamist forces, mainly focused on the volatile northern Sinai and in the western desert, along the porous border with Libya.
According to official figures, over 650 jihadists have been killed since the start of the operation, while the army has lost some 50 soldiers.
No independent statistics are available and the regions where much of the fighting has taken place are largely cut off to journalists, making verification of casualty figures extremely difficult.