Police in Egypt shoot dead gang abducting foreigners

Egyptian riot police march as they guard outside the police academy court in Cairo, Egypt,  Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. The judge in the trial of Hosni Mubarak has summoned the top members of Egypt's ruling military council to testify in closed sessions, a move Egyptians have eagerly hoped for, expecting the top generals will expose the ousted leader's role in putting down protests against his rule. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Security forces in Egypt on Thursday shot dead members of a criminal gang that specialised in abducting foreigners by posing as policemen, interior ministry said.

The only foreigner reported missing in Egypt in recent months was Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni, whose body was found in a ditch on the edge of Cairo, but the ministry in its statement made no mention of his case.

Regeni disappeared in Cairo on January 25 and his body, bearing signs of torture, was found nine days later.

“The security forces on Thursday managed to track down a gang in new Cairo that used to pose as policemen. It specialised in abducting foreigners and robbing them,” the ministry said.

“There was an exchange of fire with the police and all members of the gang were killed,” the statement said, without giving a toll.

Italian media and Egyptian opposition figures suspect Regeni was abducted and killed by elements of the Egyptian security forces, an allegation Cairo has steadfastly denied.

Egyptian officials have assured Italy of a “transparent investigation” into Regeni’s murder, with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowing to “get to the truth” of the case.

Regeni was in Cairo doing research for his doctoral thesis on Egyptian labour movements.