Police crack down on Egypt protests

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Published: Sunday 25th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Egypt has tightened security in Cairo and other cities as police moved to break up scattered protests marking the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, killing three protesters, injuring at least 21 and arresting dozens.

The deaths – two in the Cairo district of Matariyah and one in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria – occurred when police clashed with supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group in both cities, security officials said.

Earlier, a firebombing set a city tram ablaze in Alexandria and a gas pipeline blew up in a Nile Delta province, they said.

In Beheira, also in the Delta, two suspected Islamists were killed when a bomb they were placing under a high voltage tower exploded, officials said.

Two police officers were injured by shrapnel when a roadside bomb exploded in an eastern Cairo district and six more were wounded in the Matariyah clashes, according to the security officials.

Cairo, a city of 18 million people, appeared mostly deserted today, with many residents staying home to avoid being caught up in any turmoil. However, the officials and activists said police arrested several dozen protesters, mostly suspected Islamists, across much of Cairo – including areas close to the city’s Tahrir square, birthplace of the 2011 uprising.

The protests and the stepped-up security came as activists mourned the death of a female protester shot yesterday in Cairo while taking part in a gathering commemorating the nearly 900 protesters killed in the 2011 revolt.

Activists blame police for the death of Shaimaa el-Sabagh, a 32-year-old mother of one from Alexandria. The government says it is investigating.

El-Sabagh’s death is the second of a female protester in recent days. Islamist Sondos Reda was shot dead during in a Friday protest in Alexandria. Activists also blame the police.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government has shown zero tolerance for street protests since a law adopted in 2013 banned all demonstrations without prior permission. Dozens of activists have been convicted and jailed for violating the law. A parallel crackdown is targeting supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, with thousands from his Muslim Brotherhood group imprisoned or facing trial.

El-Sissi, who led the 2013 military ouster of Morsi, has been focusing on reviving the nation’s ailing economy since taking office in May. His public comments have openly dismissed calls for greater freedoms and the end of what activists see as growing police brutality. El-Sissi says his priorities are fixing the economy and battling a simmering Islamist insurgency.

“You can only deal with terrorism when you have free people, not slaves,” Elhami el-Mirghani, a senior official in el-Sabagh’s political party, told a news conference.. “And this regime is the biggest creator of terrorism.”

Published: Sunday 25th January 2015 by The News Editor

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