Egyptian policemen, militants killed in heavy clashes

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Above, an Egyptian policeman stands guard in the new city of El-Alamien, west of Alexandria. (AFP)
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Google map showing the location of Bahariyah Oasis in Egypt.
Updated 22 October 2017
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Egyptian policemen, militants killed in heavy clashes

CAIRO: Seventeen Egyptian policemen were slain, and 15 militants were killed or injured, in clashes southwest of Cairo on Friday evening, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday. 
A police patrol came under fire from “heavy weapons” while on its way to raid a militant hideout and training camp, the ministry said, adding that operations are ongoing to track down militants who escaped.
Clashes in the same area took place in June, during which one militant was killed, and in September 2015, killing eight. 
The militants’ weakness in the previous two clashes may have led security forces to underestimate their strength this time, said retired police Brig. Gen. Khaled Okasha. 
Retired army Maj. Gen. Hisham Al-Halabi said the desert location, with difficult terrain near important urban areas, suggests the involvement of foreign actors.  Okasha agreed, saying the militants were most likely part of Al-Mourabitoun, which is affiliated to Al-Qaeda in Libya and was formed by Hisham Ashmawi, a former Egyptian officer, in August 2013. 
Al-Halabi said Cairo’s mediation in the conflicts in Palestine, Libya and Syria may have pushed regional actors that support terrorist groups to urge them to escalate attacks inside Egypt to drain and preoccupy the authorities months before presidential elections. 
Okasha said a delay in an official statement from Cairo helped spread rumors that about 55 policemen were killed.


One dead in new protests in southern Iraq: medical source

Updated 20 July 2018
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One dead in new protests in southern Iraq: medical source

Diwaniyah, Iraq: A man was killed Friday during a protest outside the headquarters of an armed group in southern Iraq, a medical source said, as authorities push to contain social unrest.
"A civilian around 20 years old was shot dead," a medical source in the city of Diwaniyah told AFP, as fresh rallies were held across southern Iraq against social and economic woes.
Shots were fired by a guard from the local headquarters of the Badr organisation, a powerful Iranian-backed armed group, where hundreds of people were protesting, the source said.
The latest death brings to nine the number of people killed in the protests, according to multiple sources, while authorities earlier this week said more than 260 security personnel have been wounded.
The unrest erupted in Basra province on July 8 when security forces opened fire, killing one person as protesters demanded jobs and basic services including electricity.
Others killed during the protests were shot by unknown assailants.
The Iraqi government swiftly denounced "vandals" it accused of infiltrating the protests.
The latest demonstrations saw thousands of people gathering across the south and also in the capital Baghdad, where a heavy security presence saw demonstrators dispersed by water canon and tear gas.
The crowds were broken up as they headed towards the fortified Green Zone, a high-security area of Baghdad where the government is headquartered.
In oil-rich Basra, people shouted slogans against the authorities as thousands gathered peacefully outside government headquarters.
Shouting "no to corruption", hundreds of people rallied in Nasiriyah, 160 kilometres (100 miles) northwest of Basra, chanting the anti-graft message which has characterised nearly two weeks of protests.
Demonstrators also surrounded the home of Nasiriyah's governor where security forces responded with tear gas.