A screenshot from Al-Hayat TV interview with Al-Mesmari (Photo: Ahram Online)
Egypt's prosecutor-general has ordered the detention of a Libyan suspected of involvement in a shootout between police and terrorists in Egypt's Western Desert in October, which saw 16 policemen killed.
Prosecutor-general Nabil Sadek on Friday ordered that Abdelrahim Mohamed Al-Mesmari and 14 others defendants be detained for 15 days pending investigations of their involvement in the attack in Bahariya Oasis.
Al-Mesmari is being investigated on charges of premeditated murder of policemen, possession of unlicensed weapons and explosives, and joining a terror organisation, as well as being a member of an outlawed group that targets police and army and their institutions.
He was apprehended by Egyptian security forces during a campaign in the area a week after the attack.
Al-Mesmari appeared on private Egyptian news channel Al-Hayat on Thursday, where he said that he had adopted an Al Qaeda-based ideology.
On Thursday, the Egyptian interior ministry released details about the arrested suspect.
According to the statement, the 25-year-old from Libya's Derna is part of a terrorist organisation based in that country, which was led by an Egyptian terrorist called Emad El-Din Abdel-Hamid.
Abdel-Hamid was killed during army strikes after the October attack.
The group received training in camps inside Libya and was able to access Egypt through the Western Desert, in preparation to carry out a number of attacks against churches and several other institutions, the police said.
According to the statement, several members of the group were also behind an attack on Egyptian Copts in May, when gunmen ambushed a bus of pilgrims in Minya, killing 30 people.
The prosecution has charged the other 14 detained men with joining an outlawed group that calls for undermining of laws, obstructing the functioning of state institutions, seeking to attack the personal liberty of citizens, and harming national unity or social peace.
On 19 October, 16 policemen were killed and 13 others were injured following a raid on a terrorist hideout in the oasis.
Following the attack, Egyptian security forces said they had conducted several strikes and hits in the area, killing a large number of terrorists who had carried out the deadly attack.