CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian security forces raided a village near the Giza Pyramids on Tuesday hunting for suspects in the brutal killing of 15 policemen last month, the latest move by authorities to assert state control over Islamist strongholds that have resisted state authority since the country's July 3 coup.
The early morning security sweep of Nahya just west of Cairo comes one day after a court issued a ruling banning the Muslim Brotherhood group, from which ousted President Mohammed Morsi hails, and ordering confiscation of its assets.
Security forces backed by armored vehicles and accompanied by masked commandos conducted house-to-house raids in Nahya searching for suspects alleged to have killed the 15 police officers on Aug. 14 in the adjacent town of Kerdasa and mutilated their bodies. That attack came in retaliation for a violent assault by security forces on pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo that left hundreds dead and sparked days of unrest.
Police stayed out of Kerdasa for over a month after the killings, and residents say Islamists dominated the town. But the military and police went back in last week, sparking a gunbattle in which a senior police officer was shot dead. Scores of suspects were rounded up. The scenes were reminiscent of the Egyptian government's battle with an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, which lasted years and left thousands dead.
Meanwhile, Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy told the London-based Al-Hayat daily that Egyptian relations with the U.S. were "turbulent" and the Egyptian public has "unprecedented negative views" toward the United States.
Speaking from New York where he is attending the U.N. General Assembly, Fahmy said that voices within Egypt are calling for shifting strategic alliances from United States to countries like Russia, but described such calls as "unacceptable."
The US administration declined to label military's overthrow of Morsi on July 3 as a coup and argued it was in the U.S. national security interest to keep American support flowing.
However, the issue divided both parties in Congress. Some say US aid to Egypt should be cut off. Others contend the $1.5 billion of mostly military aid is critical for U.S. and Israeli security.