Two Islamist "terrorists" were killed last week by Egyptian police during a crackdown on militants ahead of an Arab summit at the weekend, Egypt's information minister said Thursday.
"Security forces pinpointed the den where (Ala Abdel Raziq Atiya) and a colleague of his were hiding out, and the two men opened fire on the police when they were surprised," the minister, Safwat al-Sherif, told reporters.
Sherif said Atiya was a "terrorist who has been sentenced (in absentia) in a number of cases."
But the Islamic Observation Center (IOC), a London-based body with the declared aim of defending Muslims' rights around the world, said Atiya had never been sentenced and had renounced all violence.
IOC director Yasser al-Serri told AFP that the two men, who belonged to the militant Jamaa Islamiya group, were killed in an ambush in the southern region of Aswan on October 19 and denied that anyone had shot at police.
"They were committed to the ceasefire announced by their organization," Serri said. "If the authorities pretend otherwise, they are simply trying to justify the killing."
The information minister said 14 people with connections to Atiya had been arrested, adding that weapons and ammunition had been seized. Serri said one other person had been wounded in the attack.
Jamaa Islamiya, Egypt's main armed Islamic fundamentalist group, claimed responsibility for the November 1997 massacre of 58 foreign tourists in Luxor, Egypt, but many of the organization’s former leaders have since renounced violence.
Sherif said the incident occurred while the authorities were "securing the first round of (legislative) elections and the Arab summit."
Egypt's month-long elections to parliament began on October 18 while the summit of Arab leaders took place in Cairo last Saturday and Sunday.
"The security forces were following the activities of all terrorist individuals on the run in the past 10 years," the minister said.
Two rounds of voting for members of parliament in Aswan, 920 kilometers (575 miles) south of Cairo, get underway on Sunday.
Yasser al-Serri, himself an Egyptian Islamist wanted by the authorities, directs the IOC from his base in London -- CAIRO (AFP)
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