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CAIRO (Reuters) – At least sixteen police officers were killed in a shoot-out during a raid on a suspected militant hideout in Egypt s Western desert, two security sources said on Friday.
A number of suspected militants were also killed and security forces are continuing to comb the area, a statement by the Interior Ministry said.
Egypt is facing an Islamist insurgency concentrated in the Sinai peninsula from two main groups, including an Islamic State affiliate, that has killed hundreds of security forces since 2013.
Islamist militants have launched several major attacks, most recently targeting churches in Cairo and other cities with the loss of dozens of lives.
The security sources said authorities were following a lead to a hideout deep in the heart of the desert thought to house eight suspected members of Hasm, a group which has claimed several attacks around the capital targeting judges and policemen since last year.
The number of dead was expected to rise, the security sources said.
The suspected militants tried to flee after the exchange of fire, the sources said, and continued to fire from higher ground at a second security unit called in for backup . They also detonated explosive devices.
Two security sources said 8 security personnel were injured in the clashes, while another source said that four of the injured were police officers and four others suspected militants.
Egypt accuses Hasm of being the militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group it outlawed in 2013 . The Muslim Brotherhood denies this.
The Islamist insurgency in the Sinai peninsula has grown since the military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013 following mass protests against his rule.
The militant group staging the insurgency pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2014 .
It is blamed for the killing of hundreds of soldiers and policemen and has started to target other areas, including Egypt s Christian Copts.
Reporting by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, Additional reporting by Mostafa Hashem; Writing by Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Ralph Boulton
In an episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” set to air Wednesday, Jesus Campos recounts for the first time on TV the night of the shooting. Campos was wounded by Paddock on October 1, minutes before the gunman sprayed gunfire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival from a hotel room in the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort Casino. More than two weeks after the attack, Campos said his health is improving.
“I’m doing better each day, slowly but surely . Just healing mentally and physically,” he told DeGeneres. Campos had been in the building, patrolling the halls when he was sent to check on a door on the 32nd floor . He used the stairwells to get there, but couldn’t get past a barricaded door and had to use the elevator. “There was metal bracket holding the door in place,” he said. He said he called security dispatch to report the blocked door and that’s when he heard drilling sounds.
“As I was walking down, I heard rapid fire.” Campos said. “And at first I took cover . I felt a burning sensation . I went to go lift my pant leg up and I saw the blood . That’s when I called it in on my radio that shots have been fired.” Paddock shot through the door, striking Campos in the upper right thigh. “And I was going to say that I was hit, but I got on my cell just to clear the radio traffic so they could coordinate the rest of the call.”
While hiding in a doorway, Campos alerted a hotel building engineer who was called to check on the door and a woman who came out of another room. He thanked first responders, medics and members of the community who helped everyone in need that night. “Everything puts pieces together on how everyone came together to help that night even in the darkest hour,” he said.
Campos had been scheduled to appear on several news networks last week but those interviews were canceled. “Jesus Campos wants to tell his story at a time and place of his choosing . He’s asked that everyone respect his request for privacy . We could not be more proud of Jesus,” MGM said in a statement. Campos had been hailed a hero by authorities who initially said he diverted the gunman’s attention and made him stop firing on the crowd.
The resort’s owner had disputed the times earlier provided by police but recently said Paddock was shooting at concertgoers “at the same time as, or within 40 seconds after,” Campos first reported shots.
CNN’s Keith Allen contributed to this report.
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