Egyptian forces seize control of Cairo district after clash with militants

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Egyptian police and military forces took control of Kerdasah district on the outskirts of Cairo on Thursday following an operation to against armed groups.

Military and police vehicles surrounded Kerdasah in the shadow of landmark pyramids after dawn, as police special forces were deployed to confront “terrorists” in the village, the interior ministry said.

Security forces exchanged gunfire and fired tear gas as they stormed the area to arrest people accused of torching police stations and killing about 11 security officers last August.

The clashes left Giza Security Chief Nabil Farrag dead and about 50 suspected armed men were arrested, Al Arabiya television reported.

Authorities said they found unexploded bombs on the tracks briefly halted Cairo’s metro.

The situation in the Cairo district has escalated since the army’s ouster of Islamist President Mohammad Mursi earlier in July. Police forces were denied entrance to Kerdasah since then.

On Aug. 14, just hours after authorities launched a crackdown on two pro-Mursi protest camps in Cairo, 11 policemen were found dead at the Kerdasah police station.

The Islamist president’s exit was triggered by mass protests that led to nationwide protests. Clashes between his supporters and security forces included massive attacks on police stations, security officers and churches.

Several other police stations near the village were also torched.

Television footage on Thursday showed thick teargas hanging over the rural patch near the Giza pyramids, as army and police vehicles moved around deserted parts of Kerdasah, a stronghold of hardline supporters of Mursi.

But police forces took control of the area on Thursday and imposed a curfew, state media reported.

At least 1,000 people have died in the violence with most deaths coming during the security forces’ dispersal of two pro-Mursi sit-ins on Aug. 14. About 100 police officers also died in the clashes.

Nearly 2,000 Islamist activists and politicians have been arrested since Mursi’s ouster.

Kerdasah, known for producing and selling fine fabrics is 14 kilometers from Cairo and is known to be an Islamist stronghold.

Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities on Thursday briefly grounded several metro lines in the capital after two unexploded bombs were found on the tracks in a south Cairo station, security officials said.

Bomb experts dispatched to the scene combed the tracks for more devices before the services resumed, one official and state media said.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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