March 7, 2014
Egypt arrests dozens under anti-terror law, after bomb hits Cairo
A bomb blast in a Cairo suburb wounded five people, the second attack this week after a suicide bomber killed 16 people north of the capital on Tuesday. Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in July, said Egypt would be "steadfast" in the face of terrorism.
The Cairo blast, which blew windows out of a bus, appeared to be the first aimed at civilians in a recent wave of attacks. But there was no claim of responsibility to say what had been targeted. A second device found nearby was defused.
The government declared yesterday Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group in response to the suicide attack that targeted a police station a day earlier in the city of Mansoura. It accused the group of carrying out the bombing, which the Brotherhood condemned.
The move gives the authorities wider scope to crack down on the movement that propelled Morsi to the presidency 18 months ago but has been driven underground since the army toppled him.
Sixteen of the arrests under the new law were in the Nile Delta province of Sharkiya. The state news agency said those held were accused of "promoting the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood group, distributing its leaflets, and inciting violence against the army and police". Security sources gave a country-wide total of 38 arrests on terrorism charges.
From now on, anyone taking part in Brotherhood protests will be jailed for five years, Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif told state TV. Jail terms for those accused under the terror law stretch up to life imprisonment. "The sentence could be death for those who lead this organisation," he said.
Terrorism charges will also apply to anyone who finances or promotes the group "verbally and in writing". Publication of the Brotherhood's newspaper, Freedom and Justice, was halted in response to the decision.
The state has accused the Brotherhood of turning to violence since the army toppled Mursi after mass protests against his rule. Since then, attacks on the security forces have become commonplace, with about 350 soldiers and policemen killed.
The Brotherhood denies turning to violence, saying the army has mounted a bloody coup and killed hundreds of its supporters.