Editor’s note: Mada Masr obtained the death toll reported in the story below from a member of the Interior Ministry’s Central Security Forces. The story was published on the morning of October 21, before the Interior Ministry released a statement later in the day announcing that 16 police officers had been killed in clashes with militants along the Wahat Road on October 20.
At least 53 police officers have been killed in clashes with militants near the Wahat Road, 135 km outside Giza, in an attempted raid on a number of militant cells in the area, according to a security source that spoke to Mada Masr.
The security source stated 18 commissioned officers and 35 conscripts were among the deceased.
BBC Arabic cited an Interior Ministry source as also reporting the death toll at 53.
Armed Forces have deployed more reinforcements to the area, while another task force is still on patrol in search of militants, according to a BBC Arabic correspondent in Cairo. All communication with the forces located in the Wahat area have been lost, according to the security source.
Those injured in the clashes are reportedly being transferred to the police hospital in Agouza, according to the BBC.
The Interior Ministry has released a statement regarding the clashes, but it has not provided any official casualty figures.
The Wahat area of the Giza Governorate extends into the Western Desert, and has been a site where various militant organizations have established operations, including the Islamic State-affiliated Soldiers of the Caliphate and Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Murabitoun.
Soldiers of the Caliphate, under the leadership of Amr Saad, are believed to have carried out the attack on a bus carrying Coptic Christians that left 24 dead and 16 injured in Minya in May, according to ongoing investigations by the State Security Prosecution.
The investigations also indicate that the militant group was responsible for the December bombing of the St. Peter and St. Paul Church in central Cairo and the twin Palm Sunday bombings in April in the Tanta and Alexandria governorates, all of which left scores of churchgoers dead.
The militant group members are believed to have received training in a camp close to the location of Friday’s clashes.
Al-Mourabitoun carried out an attack targeting a military checkpoint in the Farafra Oasis in July 2014 that left 28 Armed Forces officers dead. The organization is led by Hesham Ashmawy, a former military officer who was expelled from the Armed Forces in 2011.
Ashmawy joined the Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdes militant group, which later pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and took on the name Province of Sinai. Ashmawy defected after the organization joined ISIS and founded the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, whose members are also believe to have been trained in the Western Desert.