Egypt police carry out 'extrajudicial execution' in North Sinai
Human Rights Watch [HRW] has called for an independent inquiry into the suspected case of extrajudicial execution, which has sparked rare protests in the Sinai Peninsula, where security forces have been targeted in a spate of extremist attacks.
HRW said six of the alleged militants killed in a "gunfight" with police on January 13 had been held incommunicado for up to three months in a police detention centre.
Families of the slain men only learnt of their relatives' deaths from a police statement after they had been given assurances they would be released, the group said.
Police had claimed that the ten alleged militants linked to the Islamic State group [IS] were killed in a raid on one of their hideouts after the group opened fire at the security forces.
Police released video footage of the alleged raid and its aftermath, which many social media users have claimed appears "staged" and only "further incriminates" security forces.
The incident came days after a car bombing at a checkpoint near al-Arish killed eight policemen and a civilian.
The killings sparked protests in al-Arish with thousands taking to the streets during the funeral of slain 19-year-old student Bilal Hamdan, who had been arrested in October 2016.
Protesters chanted slogans against the government and the police and called for the release of all detainees held under conditions of enforced disappearance, a The New Arab correspondent reported.
Egyptian police have previously been accused of carrying out extrajudicial executions. Last year, they claimed to have killed a "criminal gang" responsible for the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni.
This account by Egyptian authorities has been largely dismissed by the families of the gang members, Regeni's family, Italian investigators and even by Egyptian prosecutors, who denied that there was a link between the gang and the student's death.
Egypt has been battling a growing Islamist insurgency since the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammad Morsi in 2013.
Most of the attacks, which have killed hundreds of police and army officers and soldiers, have taken place in northern Sinai, which borders Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, though attacks have reached Cairo.