KERDASA, Egypt (AP) — "Let's go, men! Go in, toward martyrdom," police Gen. Nabil Farrag, a pistol in one hand and a walkie-talkie in the other, exhorted his men Thursday morning as they prepared to storm a town held by Islamic militants outside Cairo.
Seconds later, a barrage of gunfire came from nearby rooftops in the town of Kerdasa onto the police and troops deployed on a highway overpass. The troops, and a group of journalists with them, threw themselves to the ground. There was little cover on the exposed overpass as the bullets flew around them on all directions.
Ahmed Abdel Fattah, an Egyptian photographer working with The Associated Press, saw Farrag lying face down on the asphalt and called over to him.
"General, come this way for protection," he shouted. Then he saw Farrag's scarlet face and his heavy breathing, and Abdel-Fattah realized the general had been hit.
It took several minutes for the fire to ease enough for policemen, some in plainclothes, to rush to the side of their commander. They stripped off his flak jacket and saw blood spreading in Farrag's white uniform. He had been hit on the right side, under his arm. They carried Farrag to a military vehicle, loaded him in and drove off to a hospital.
The Interior Ministry later reported that Farrag, the deputy security chief of Cairo's sister city Giza, had died.
Meanwhile, troops began firing back as the journalists crawled for 30 meters (yards) for cover. Security forces moved into Kerdasa, exchanging fire with militants as they conducted house-to-house searches in an operation aimed at uprooting Islamic hard-liners who took control of the town after the July ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
Here's a gallery of Abdel Fattah's images showing Farrag's shooting:
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