Monday, August 19, 2013

Militants kill 25 policemen in Egypt - Times of India

CAIRO: Egypt's volatile Sinai Peninsula saw some more violence on Monday when suspected militants ambushed two minibuses carrying off-duty policemen, killing 25 of them and wounding two, security officials said.

The killings took place near the border town of Rafah. This is a day after police took action to free a prison guard from rioting detainees, killing 36 in the process. At least 850 people have died in Egypt since last Wednesday in clashes pitting followers of Morsi against the army-backed government.

The violence in the Sinai region has gone up since the Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was deposed in an army-backed coup on July 3. Sinai is a strategic region bordering the Gaza Strip and Israel.

After initial confusion that militants fired rocket-propelled grenades, reports suggest that in Monday's attack in Sinai, the militants first created a blockade which forced the two vehicles to stop. They then ordered the policemen to step out of the vehicles, asked them to lie down on the ground and shot them.

Egyptian state television also reported that the men were killed execution-style.

Karim elMasry one the fifteen founding members of Tamarod, a movement that was instrumental in starting the uprisings that resulted in the removal of Morsi said, blamed the Brotherhood for the violence in Sinai.

"There is a direct connection between the increase in the violence at Sinai and the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has asked their military wing to step up their activities so that there is pressure on the Army to withdraw. This is a ploy to bring Morsi back."

The deaths of the prisoners on Sunday, who were reportedly captured during clashes in the past couple of days around Cairo's central Ramses Square, came as Egypt's military leader General Abdel-Fatah el-Sisi vowed to deal firmly with those who engaged in violence and said on Sunday that the army has no intention to seize power while calling on Islamists to join the political process.

The Muslim Brotherhood accused the army of torturing its member.

"The murders show the violations and abuses that political detainees who oppose the July 3 coup get subjected to," said a Brotherhood spokesperson.

The interior ministry meanwhile claimed that the 36 Brotherhood members died during an attempted prison breakout on Sunday near the capital, saying the prisoners had been suffocated by tear gas.

At least 1000 supporters of the Brotherhood have been arrested across Egypt to prevent violence, according to the Army. The Islamist group claims that their democratic rights are were taken from them and have announced that they will not retreat and staged rallies in both Cairo and Alexandria on Sunday. The interim President Adly Mansour also declared a state of emergency, imposed a 7 pm to 6 am curfew to curb violence in the country. This opponents have accused him of employing martial law.

The government says at least 70 members of the security forces have died in the past five days and the prime minister has proposed disbanding the 85-year-old Brotherhood.
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