A police force in Assiut killed four individuals alleged to be militants from the terrorist group Hasm, the Ministry of Interior announced on Wednesday in a statement.
The four men were killed in an exchange of fire, the ministry said, adding that their bodies were transferred to the Assiut University morgue.
The clash took place in the village of Sohagyia after police investigations revealed that the dead suspects “had intentions to commit acts of sabotage during [the upcoming] 30 June celebrations.”
Sohagyia is part of the city of Ghanaem, a destination known for having hosted several members of different political Islamist groups. Assiut was home to one of the many bloody confrontations between Islamists and police forces in the 1980s and 1990s in Egypt. In 1981, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group attempted to attack the Assiut security directorate, leading to the deaths of dozens.
Last October, police killed 13 militants and confiscated a number of explosive belts following clashes with militants on a highway in Assiut. The raid took place after the deadly attack on 20 October 2016 at Al-Wahat Road that left 16 police personnel killed.
In July of the same year, in an unpopulated area of the city Dairut, another six suspects allegedly involved in terror-related operations were killed in clashes.
Wednesday’s killings are the latest in Egypt’s crackdown on the militant group Hasm. In February, police forces killed three and arrested 14 alleged members.
The movement claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in statements circulated online. In August 2016, the group said it was behind the failed assassination attempt of former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa. In October of the same year, militants driving a black private vehicle opened fire on army leader Adel Ragaai, assassinating him in front of his residence in the city of Obour.
On Monday, a military court postponed the trial of 304 alleged members of Hasm. They are accused of the attempted assassination of Assistant General Prosecutor Zakareya Abdel Aziz with a car bomb that targeted his convoy.
The government sees Hasm as a militant offshoot of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group.
Most of the group’s top leadership have been arrested and put on trial, many of them having received preliminary death or life sentences, including former president Mohamed Morsi.