Police raided a small island in the Nile River on Monday, triggering a dawn shootout with Muslim extremists that killed one officer, an official said. Thirty-five suspects were arrested.
The government's Middle East News Agency quoted an unnamed security official as saying two extremists were wounded and taken to a hospital.Fugitive militants were hiding in the fields and woods on Badary island near Assiut, a hotbed of extremist violence 200 miles south of Cairo, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The raid was part of a major crackdown begun last week on radical Muslims who have been attacking police, Coptic Christians and foreign tourists in a campaign to overthrow Egypt's secular government and install an Islamic regime. At least 20 people, most of them extremists, died in gunbattles last week.
The spirtual leader of the movement is Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind cleric who has been living in self-exile in the United States for nearly three years. Two men who worship at the mosque where Abdel-Rahman preaches have been charged in the Feb. 26 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.
In a related development, prosecutors questioned 52 people Monday about a weekend riot over the expulsion of four students for playing tape-recorded anti-Christian sermons by Abdel-Rahman at their school.
A church was burned and seven policemen injured in the violence Saturday night in Qaliubya, just north of Cairo.
The four girls were expelled and their teacher fired several weeks ago after the tapes were played in class. An opposition paper said Christian girls were in the classroom and listened to the tapes.
Education Minister Hussein Kamel Bahaa Eddin met with the teenagers and their families after the riot and readmitted the girls to class after they apologized.