Six others were wounded in the incident and the death toll was expected to rise.
The Ministry of Interior said in a statement late yesterday that a number of policemen were killed and injured, and some terrorists also died in the ensuing crossfire.
At least 16 Egyptian police officers were killed and 13 injured in a shootout with militants in Egypt's Western Desert, Egypt's Interior Ministry said Saturday.
Two security sources said eight security personnel were injured in the clashes, while another source said that four of the injured were police officers and four others were suspected militants.
Condemning "in the strongest terms" the terrorist attack that took place Friday in Egypt's El Wahat desert, the United Nations Security Council underlined the need to bring the perpetrators and sponsors of such "reprehensible acts" to justice.
While the forces were moving towards the area, they were ambushed by militants who fired rocket-propelled grenades and detonated explosive devices.More news: NOAA releases winter outlook: What's in store for NYC?
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A fake claim in the name of the small extremist group Hasam, reported by multiple local media, had spread on social media soon after the shootout.
The sources said authorities were following a lead to an apartment thought to house eight suspected members of Hasm, a group which has claimed several attacks around the capital targeting judges and policemen since previous year.
The uprising has centred mostly in the northern region of the Sinai Peninsula, around 300 miles from the latest violence.
Last month, at least 18 policemen were killed when a suicide bomber targeted their convoy near the North Sinai provincial capital of Arish.
The ministry said it had sent police to the area, less than 200 kilometres southwest of Cairo, after learning that militants were there "hiding, training, and preparing to carry out terrorist operations".
The United States stands with Egypt at this hard time, as we continue to work together to fight the scourge of terrorism.