A police officer and a conscript were killed after armed attackers opened fire on their patrol car, Egypt’s interior ministry has said, in the latest deadly assault against the country’s security forces.
The deaths on Sunday came just two days after a police officer was killed in a bomb blast in Cairo’s Lebanon square.
The ministry said in a statement that those killed in the latest attack were patrolling the road between Cairo and Suez.
Fighters have stepped up their attacks against security forces since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July last year.
A little-known armed group, Ajnad Misr, has vowed fresh attacks against security forces in retaliation for their crackdown on Morsi supporters that, according to Amnesty International, has claimed 1,400 lives. Ajnad Misr, or Soldiers of Egypt, claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack on a traffic police kiosk.
But the deadliest attacks have been claimed by Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a group inspired by al-Qaeda.
Official figures show that more than 500 people – mostly policemen and soldiers – have been killed in bombing and shooting assaults by fighters since July.
Most attacks have been in the restive Sinai Peninsula, but in recent months brazen attacks have also been launched farther afield in the Nile Delta and in the capital.
At the same time, more than 15,000 Islamists, mostly from Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, have been jailed, while hundreds have been sentenced to death.
The authorities blame the Brotherhood for the attacks and have blacklisted it as a “terrorist organisation”.