General killed as Egyptian forces raid pro-Morsi town

Egyptian security forces clashed with militants in Kerdasa

An Egyptian police general has been killed during a raid by security forces on the Muslim Brotherhood stronghold of Kerdasa, near the capital Cairo.

Security forces fought gun battles in the town as they searched for the killers of 11 police officers in the town last month.

At least 55 suspected militants were arrested, police say.

Kerdasa is the second big raid on a militant stronghold since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in July.

On Monday, security forces arrested dozens of residents during a raid on pro-Morsi supporters in the town of Delga, Minya province, about 300km south of Cairo.

In Kerdasa, General Nabeel Farrag was killed when gunmen opened fire from the rooftops of several schools and mosques they had taken over, the interior ministry was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

Reporting from the centre of the town, the BBC's Quentin Sommerville said security forces had to take cover behind buildings during the shooting.

By the afternoon, the gunfire had petered out but there was still a heavy police presence on the streets and army checkpoints at all main exits, he adds.

At least 1,000 people - including about 100 police officers - have died in unrest following President Morsi's removal from power.

The deadliest incidents took place when security forces moved in to disperse two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo last month.

'Down with Sisi'

Hundreds of members of the security forces backed by helicopters entered Kerdasa at about 05:30 local time (03:30 GMT).

Egyptian security forces taking part in the operation in Kerdasa The operation in Kerdasa began early on Thursday morning
Security forces taking cover during a gun battle with Several hours after the operation began, gun battles with militants flared up
A military helicopter flies during clashes between security forces and suspected militants, over the town of Kerdasa Troops were backed by helicopters in the assault
Egyptian security forces take cover Security forces had to take cover behind buildings
Security forces and photographer Photographers at the scene were also sent looking for cover
Security forces make an arrest in Kerdasa, 19 September At least 55 arrests were made in the town on Thursday

In the fighting that followed grenades were hurled at police, injuring 10 officers, according to General Medhat El Menshawy, head of special security forces.

Thousands of people had attended a pro-Morsi rally in the town on Wednesday night amid shouts of "Down with Sisi", referring to the head of the army.

One of those arrested on Thursday is said to be Ahmad Uways, the man accused of killing the head of Kerdasa police station on 14 August.

Gen Menshawy said the detainees included people suspected of burning churches in the town and parading the bodies of the police officers killed last month.

In a separate incident on Thursday, several metro lines in the capital were disrupted after two suspected bombs were found on the tracks near Hilmiyat al-Zaytun station in the south of Cairo.

Security officials said bomb experts had been dispatched to the scene and services were now running again.

However, there was confusion as to whether the bombs were viable devices or fakes.

'Outsiders'

Kerdasa, known for producing and selling textiles, is 14km (8.7 miles) from Cairo.

Residents were quoted on Wednesday saying they did not trust police: "We know they will come to arrest people we know and respect, whom they blame for the violence that we know was done by outsiders, not by our respectable sheikhs," Ahmed Aly told Reuters news agency.

"Eleven policemen were killed here, but so too were 11 people from Kerdasa killed at Rabaa," another resident told the BBC, referring to one of the pro-Morsi camps in Cairo cleared by the police.

Pictures of Mr Morsi are still in evidence on many buildings and lampposts in the town, our correspondent reports, leaving little doubt over where many people's allegiances lie.

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