Egypt troops move against Islamist hotbed

Associated Press

KERDASA, Egypt

Egyptian security forces backed by combat vehicles and helicopters stormed a town near the Pyramids, famed among tourists for its traditional rugs and dresses, aiming to drive out Islamist militants who held sway there for over a month, brandishing their weapons as they roamed its streets.

After troops swept in, many residents of Kerdasa greeted the forces with cheers and handing them soft drinks, one witness said. The assault, in which a police general was shot to death by militants, highlighted authorities’ stepped-up resolve to move against strongholds of armed supporters of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted by the military July 3.

But Kerdasa residents expressed fear that the security crackdown will drive out the militants only temporarily. They said nearby villages on Cairo’s western outskirts, which are home to some of Egypt’s well-known families with a history of militancy, will continue to provide cover for those who took control of the town.

“I wish this had happened a month ago,” said Youssef Hussein, a resident of Kerdasa, hailing the early morning raid on his hometown. “We have been living in a bubble. We thought we could die every day. Kerdasa has really been wrecked.”

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