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Egypt identifies perpetrator behind Monday's hospital car bombing

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CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s interior ministry said on Thursday it has identified the perpetrator behind a car bombing outside Cairo’s main cancer hospital this week that killed more than 20 and injured dozens.

It also said security forces killed 17 suspected militants on Thursday morning during raids on their hideouts in three separate incidents in Helwan, Cairo and in the province of Fayoum, south of Cairo.

The ministry said the bomber was a member of the militant group Hasm and identified him as fugitive 24-year-old Abdel Rahman Khaled Mahmoud Abdel Rahman.

“This was confirmed following the DNA testing of the remains that were found at the site of the accident and based on the comparison with members of his family’s (DNA),” the statement said.

On Monday, a car packed with explosives was driving against traffic and blew up outside the hospital.

It said the militants targeted on Thursday were members of “Hasm’s terrorist cluster cell.”

Egypt accuses Hasm, which emerged in 2016 and has claimed several attacks, of being a wing of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement denies this and says it seeks change only through peaceful means.

The ministry said the suspects were killed in gun battles, but did not elaborate on their identity or whether there had been any casualties or injuries among the security forces.

Weapons and explosives were found at the scene of the shootouts, the ministry said.

A Reuters investigation in April found that Egyptian security forces had shot dead hundreds of suspected militants in what the Interior Ministry said were gun battles, but which bereaved families said were extrajudicial executions.

Human rights organizations have accused Egypt of carrying out extrajudicial executions and of trying civilians in military courts as part of the crackdown.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said the matter of human rights should be treated in the context of regional turbulence and the struggle against terrorism. Strong security measures, he has said, are needed to stabilise Egypt after the turmoil that followed the country’s 2011 uprising.

Egypt’s military and police launched a major campaign against militant groups in 2018, focusing on the Sinai Peninsula as well as southern areas and the border with Libya.

(Reporting by Haitham Ahmed, writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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