Egypt's interior ministry said security forces hunting down militants in the region were attacked late Friday on a road to the Bahariya oasis, some 200km southwest of Cairo. Image Credit: File: Reuters

Cairo: Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Saturday condemned the terrorist attack against Egyptian security forces on Friday in which at least 55 policemen, including 20 officers and 34 conscripts, were killed in clashes with Islamist fighters in the Bahariya oasis in the country’s western desert on Friday, security and medical sources said.

A source from the Saudi foreign ministry offered condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims and to the government of Egypt.

Dr. Anwar Mohammad Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the UAE stood in solidarity with the Egyptian government in their fight against terrorism and extremism.

“These acts seek to wreak havoc on Egypt and its people, but it will not undermine the country’s resolve to eradicate terrorism. We are confident that whoever intends for evil endeavours to occur on Egyptian soil will not succeed,” he said, emphasising that “our Arab, Islamic and humanitarian responsibilities are clear in rejecting terrorist acts.”

Dr. Gargash expressed the UAE’s sincere condolences to Egypt’s government, people, and families of the martyrs, wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded.An Egyptian interior ministry statement confirmed the incident and said some of the attackers had been killed, without giving any figures for casualties or further details.

Security forces, who are hunting down militants in the region, were ambushed late on Friday on a road to the Bahariya oasis, some 200 kilometres southeast of Cairo, according to the Interior Ministry statement.

According to a source close to the security services, the convoy was hit by rocket fire. The attackers also used explosive devices.

There has not yet been a claim of responsibility. A false claim by the small extremist group Hasm, reported by multiple local media, spread on social media soon after the attack.

But the group’s official Twitter feed, where it routinely shares statements, has been dormant since October 2.

Since the Egyptian army removed president Mohammad Mursi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, extremist groups have increased their attacks on military and police.

Hasm has claimed multiple attacks since last year on police, officials and judges in Cairo.

Authorities have also been fighting the Egyptian branch of Daesh, which has increased its attacks in the north of the Sinai peninsula.

Hundreds of soldiers and police personnel have been killed in the violence.

Daesh’s deadly attacks on the military and police include an assault on a checkpoint in Sinai on July 7 that killed at least 21 soldiers. The terror group has maintained a steady war of attrition with sniper attacks and roadside bombings.