UPDATE 1: Egypt says police killed militants who attacked Italian consulate

Egyptian security forces on Friday killed nine militants who took part in a bomb attack at the Italian consulate in Cairo in July, the Interior Ministry said.

The ultra-hardline Islamic State group, which has supporters based in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, had claimed responsibility for that July attack which killed one person.

The Interior Ministry said three policemen were wounded in an exchange of fire with what it called "terrorists" killed in a raid on a house in Cairo on Friday. It said they were found with weapons, including belts used for suicide bombings.

Hours before the Interior Ministry issued a statement, officials told Reuters that security forces killed nine members of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in the same operation. The group, whose top leaders have been sentenced to death in what human rights groups call unfair trials, says it is committed to peaceful activism.

"The Brotherhood members clashed with security forces," said one of the officials, adding that they were meeting to plan what he called "terrorist attacks".

Egypt's government describes militants as terrorists and makes no distinction between the Brotherhood, which renounced violence decades ago, and groups like Islamic State and Al Qaeda, arguing they share the same ideology.

The Brotherhood, which was removed from power by the army in 2013, has accused authorities in the Arab world's largest state of killing unarmed members in raids.

In July, the Brotherhood called for a revolt after police killed 13 prominent members in a swoop on an apartment in a Cairo suburb. The men's families and lawyers said they were unarmed.

Among the dead in that raid was Nasser al-Hafi, a prominent lawyer for the Brotherhood and a former lawmaker. Egypt's Interior Ministry said the 13 men were plotting attacks.

Egypt cracked down on Islamists after then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled democratically-elected President Mohamed Mursi of the Brotherhood after mass protests against his rule.

Security forces shot dead hundreds at a Cairo protest camp and arrested thousands of others, drawing widespread criticism from human rights groups.

Sisi, who went on to become elected president, declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group and says Islamist militants pose an existential threat to Egypt.

Islamic State's Egypt affiliate, called Sinai Province, has killed hundreds of soldiers and police since Mursi was ousted.

Diplomats and analysts say Sisi's clampdown has pushed some members of the Brotherhood to take up arms against the state. (Reporting by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Mark Heinrich/Ruth Pitchford)

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