16 Egyptian Policemen killed in Friday Clashes with Militants: Interior Ministry

At least 16 Egyptian policemen have been killed in clashes with armed men during a raid on a suspected militant hideout in the country's Western Desert, according to an official toll, Press TV reported.

The figure from the Interior Ministry was lower than a toll given earlier by security and medical sources of at least 35 Egyptian police officers killed in the clashes which began on Friday night. The ministry said that 15 militants were also killed as security forces chased them into the desert after the clashes.

 The shootout broke out after members of the Egyptian National Police attacked the terrorist cell in Bahariya Oasis, a large area of 135 square kilometers, situated some 370 kilometers from the capital Cairo, on Friday.

The sources further said that authorities ordered the raid after they received information on the militants’ location deep in the desert, believed to be home to at least eight suspected members of the Hasm group, an outfit the government links with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood party and which has claimed several attacks around the capital targeting judges and police since last year.

Cairo said that Hasm is the military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Earlier in the day, Egypt’s Interior Ministry issued a statement confirming that “a number of police officers were either killed or wounded” in the incident, without giving an exact figure for the casualties. It added that some “terrorists” were also slain in the raid, which continued into darkness.