CAIRO — Masked gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a security checkpoint Friday killing five policemen just a short distance from some of the country’s oldest pyramids in Giza, officials said.
The drive-by shooting in the early hours of the morning took place in the village of Abusir in Badrashin, part of Greater Cairo, and the slain policemen were part of the force tasked to guard Saqqara, one of Egypt’s most popular tourist sites and host to a collection of temples, tombs and funerary complexes.
The attack took place near the famous Step Pyramid of King Djoser — the oldest of Egypt’s more than 90 pyramids and the forerunner of the more familiar straight-sided pyramids in Giza on the outskirts of Cairo.
Attackers stole the weapons and radios of the victims and tried to set fire to the bodies but fled upon seeing people gathering nearby, witnesses said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Insurgents have carried out a number of attacks in Egypt since the 2013 military ouster of an elected Islamist president. The violence has been concentrated in the northern Sinai Peninsula, but attacks spread in the mainland, including in the capital where suicide bombers struck churches and security headquarters.
While the Islamic State group affiliate has claimed responsibility for major attacks. A shadowy group called Hasm, or ‘‘Decisiveness,’’ which the government suspects is linked to the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, claimed responsibility for similar drive-by shootings and attacks targeting police, military, judges and pro-government figures.
The brotherhood won a series of elections in Egypt following the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and Mohammed Morsi, a senior Brotherhood leader, became Egypt’s first freely elected president the following year. His brief rule proved divisive, and the military overthrew him in 2013. Authorities outlawed the Brotherhood a few months later, declaring it a terrorist group.
Last Friday, IS claimed responsibility for a stunning attack on a remote Egyptian army outpost in the Sinai Peninsula with a suicide car bomb and heavy machine gun fire Friday, killing at least 23 soldiers. It was the deadliest attack in the turbulent region in two years. On the same day, Hasm claimed responsibility for shooting and killing a policeman as he was heading for Friday prayers.
Over the past days, the government announced killings of members of Hasm in alleged shootouts with security forces. In previous incidents, families of the slain suspects challenged authorities’ accounts and accuse them of illegal detentions, torture, and executions of their beloved ones.Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef contributed to this report.