October 23, 2017 / 10:18 PM / in a year

Egypt authorities challenge Reuters on casualties in western desert attack

LONDON (Reuters) - Egyptian authorities have accused Reuters and the BBC of “inaccurate coverage” of clashes in the western desert between security forces and armed militants in which police officers and conscripts were killed on Friday.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi chairs a meeting with Interior Minister General Magdi Abdel Ghaffar, Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi, Intelligence Chief Khaled Fawzi and other officials in Cairo, Egypt October 22, 2017 in this handout picture courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency. The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

In a statement, Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) said Reuters had made “grave professional mistakes” by relying on unidentified security sources and not “resorting to official security authorities to get correct information”.

The Ministry of Interior in an initial statement on Friday did not give any casualty figure for Friday’s clashes. On Saturday, a ministry statement said 16 police and conscripts were killed and another 13 wounded in a remote western desert area after they came under heavy fire from the armed group.

However, three security sources told Reuters as many as 52 police had been killed in gun battles, which security sources said involved militants firing rockets at a police convoy.

“We take seriously our obligation to report the news fairly and accurately, and were careful here to report both the Interior Ministry’s account of the situation as well as information we received independently from other sources,” a Reuters spokesperson said.

The SIS also criticised the use of the word militant in the English version of the story that Reuters published.

“Reuters ‘English’ exchanged the term ‘terrorists’, which is only accurate and realistic description of those elements, with the term ‘militants’, a matter that may give a positive connotation to the reader,” the statement said.

The BBC issued its own report on the Egyptian statement.

Editing by Alison Williams

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