A new Egyptian armed group, the Hasam Movement, has claimed responsibility for the killing of a police officer in the country’s north.
Armed men shot Gamal al-Deeb, a policeman working with the Homeland Security agency, eight times outside his home in Egypt’s Beheira province shortly after midnight, the interior ministry said on Saturday.
He died of a bullet to the head.
“The Hasam Movement’s assassination squad has carried out the field execution of the hardened criminal Gamal al-Deeb who committed his crimes in all ages,” the group said in a statement on social media.
“He deserved the bullet of justice that found its way to his head and the seven others in his body.”
The group accused Deeb of killing, kidnapping and torturing innocents, including children. It posted photos purportedly of Deeb’s house, car and a coffee shop he frequented.
Hasam, the Arabic word for decisiveness, has claimed responsibility for five other attacks since July, including the attempted assassination of a senior prosecutor via a car bomb, and the failed shooting of Egypt’s former top Muslim religious leader.
Hasam also claimed responsibility for the killing of a senior police officer earlier this year.
Policemen, judges and other senior officials have increasingly been targeted by armed groups angered by hefty prison sentences imposed on members of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood, which says it is a peaceful organisation, won Egypt’s first free elections after the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
Its presidential candidate, Mohamed Morsi, was himself deposed after mass protests against his rule and replaced by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the military chief, in 2013.
Sisi has since overseen a crackdown on opposition in which hundreds of Brotherhood supporters have been killed and thousands, including Morsi, jailed or sentenced to death.
Travel advisory row
In a separate development, Egypt’s foreign ministry has criticised the US embassy in Cairo for advising citizens to avoid large gatherings and public spaces in the capital until Sunday due to “potential security concerns”.
“The foreign ministry spokesman has conveyed his annoyance at the warning released by the United States embassy in Cairo to Americans,” the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
“[This] raises questions over the reasons this statement was released in such a way.”
The ministry said it contacted the embassy over the warning and that it was told there were no specific reasons or threats behind the move.
The largest Arab country is currently battling armed groups mainly concentrated in the Sinai Peninsula and which gained pace after the removal of Morsi.
The campaign, mounted by the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, has killed hundreds of soldiers and police and began to attack Western targets within the country.
The attacks have dented the recovery of tourism after a 2011 uprising drove away tourists, a major source of hard currency.
Import-dependent Egypt is facing a shortage of foreign exchange that has stifled business activity and hit confidence in the economy.