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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Raid on Militant Hide-Out Near Egypt’s Pyramids Ends in Deadly Blast - The New York Times

Raid on Militant Hide-Out Near Egypt's Pyramids Ends in Deadly Blast

Outside a building in Giza, Egypt, where an explosion Thursday killed at least nine people, including several police officers. Credit Mohamed El-Shahed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

CAIRO — A large explosion in an apartment building near the Pyramids killed at least nine people on Thursday evening, including at least three police officers, during what the authorities said was a security raid on a suspected militant hide-out.

Egypt's Interior Ministry said in a statement that the raid, in Giza, had targeted a militant cell that had been preparing explosives to use in attacks on public buildings. The blast occurred as bomb technicians were attempting to defuse booby traps, the statement said. It was unclear how the other victims figured in the raid and its aftermath, though one was said to be a civilian.

The blast occurred less than a mile from the Pyramids, though the government gave no indication that the militants were planning attacks on tourists.

The Egyptian authorities have struggled for more than two years to contain a violent insurgency by militant Islamists that has endured despite a sweeping security campaign, including thousands of arrests. The attacks have killed hundreds of police and army personnel, mainly in the northern Sinai Peninsula. Among the extremist groups behind the attacks is an affiliate of the Islamic State, which has also claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians, including the destruction of a Russian airliner in October that killed all 224 aboard.

The deaths on Thursday came as the government was carrying out hundreds of raids in the Cairo area in an effort to prevent any protests on Monday, the fifth anniversary of the revolt that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

The Interior Ministry said that the militants swept up in the raid were part of the Muslim Brotherhood, but that could not be independently confirmed.

The government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi routinely blames the Brotherhood for acts of violence. The organization was Egypt's most powerful political movement until the military, led by Mr. Sisi, deposed President Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader, in July 2013.

Video posted by local news media showed the heavily damaged facade of a building after the explosion, with the outer walls of at least one apartment completely blown out. Several cars below the building were crushed, apparently by falling debris.

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