Cairo - Egyptian security forces Thursday in Cairo shot dead members of a criminal gang that specialised in abducting foreigners by posing as policemen, the interior ministry said.
The only foreigner reported missing in Egypt in recent months was Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni, whose body was found in a ditch on the edge of Cairo, but the ministry in its statement made no mention of his case.
Regeni disappeared in Cairo on January 25 and his body, bearing signs of torture, was found nine days later.
"The security forces on Thursday managed to track down a gang in new Cairo that used to pose as policemen. It specialised in abducting foreigners and robbing them," the ministry said.
"There was an exchange of fire with the police and all members of the gang were killed," the statement said, without giving a toll.
Italian media and Egyptian opposition figures suspect Regeni was abducted and killed by elements of the Egyptian security forces, an allegation Cairo has steadfastly denied.
Egyptian officials have assured Italy of a "transparent investigation" into Regeni's murder, with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowing to "get to the truth" of the case.
Regeni was in Cairo doing research for his doctoral thesis on Egyptian labour movements.