Cairo - An Egyptian police officer was shot dead in a Nile
Delta town on Thursday while trying to arrest suspects wanted in connection
with a killing of a security official, the interior ministry said.
Captain Ahmed Samir came under fire during an early morning
operation to arrest militants in the province of Qulubiya, the ministry said in
a statement. They were suspected of involvement in the shooting in Cairo on
Sunday of Interior Ministry Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Mabruk.
Mabruk's killing deepened concerns that Egypt, a US ally,
could face an Islamist insurgency.
He was part of an Interior Ministry unit that closely tracks
the Muslim Brotherhood, which won every election since a popular uprising toppled
autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
One of the Brotherhood's leaders, Mohammed Morsi, was ousted
as Egypt's president by the army in July. Since then, attacks by Islamists
based in the Sinai Peninsula near Israel have risen sharply.
Islamist militants have also attacked police officials in
Cairo and elsewhere.
State-run newspaper Al-Ahram quoted a forensics specialist
as saying that Samir died from a bullet wound to his neck, and that he was shot
at a range of no more than five metres.
A Sinai-based militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, claimed
responsibility for the killing of Mabruk, who security officials say was
supposed to be a witness in one of several legal cases against Morsi, who is on
trial for inciting violence.
The army-backed government does not distinguish between the
Brotherhood and al-Qaeda-inspired militants in Sinai, who attack security
forces almost daily.
A suicide car bombing killed at least 10 Egyptian soldiers
in the Sinai on Wednesday, one of the deadliest attacks there since militants
stepped up violence after Morsi's overthrow.
Militant violence, together with political tension between
the Brotherhood and the government, is weighing on investment and tourism in
Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel and contains the strategic Suez