At least 50 Egyptian policemen, including officers and conscripts, were killed and several others injured in a gun battle with terrorists during a raid on a militant hideout near Cairo, security sources said today.
The statement said national security forces had received information that "terrorists" were in the desert to "hide, train, equip, and carry out terrorist operations, taking advantage of the rugged desert and ease of movement".
The Egyptian authorities have not released an official death toll yet.
In total, 53 members of the security service died, sources told the BBC. Local reports suggest explosives were also used by the militants.
There has not yet been a claim of responsibility.
He also called on officials to exert all possible efforts to capture the terrorist elements involved in the shootout.
Egypt has been struggling to contain an insurgency by Islamic militants led by an affiliate of the Islamic State group, centred mostly across the Suez Canal in the northern region of the Sinai Peninsula.
Follow the progress of Storm Brian as it approaches Kilkenny
BE EXTRA CAUTIOUS when driving on exposed roads, high ground and across bridges where again sudden gusts can blow you off course. Storm Brian is supposed to hit areas of the United Kingdom tonight (20 October) and will pass through over the weekend.
It was one of the largest losses of life for Egyptian security forces since militants began targeting government forces after the Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was removed by the military in 2013.
Two truck drivers heading away from the scene told AFP they had seen heavy deployments of security personnel in the area and that aircraft were carrying out surveillance.
Egypt is now battling an Islamist insurgency. The Muslim Brotherhood has denied any involvement in violent attacks against security forces.
Since then, an extensive crackdown on the group has left it in disarray with competing wings that have disagreed on whether to resort to violence, after police bloodily suppressed their protests.
In their statements, none of the militant groups claim any affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood.
IS has maintained a steady war of attrition with sniper attacks and roadside bombings.