Aug 20 2013
The supreme leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has been arrested, dealing a serious blow to the group as it tries to maintain street protests over the removal of president Mohammed Morsi.
The Brotherhood's spiritual guide, Mohammed Badie, was arrested in an apartment in the Cairo district of Nasr City, near where the six-week sit-in protest was held by supporters of Mr Morsi. The encampment was cleared by security forces last Wednesday, along with another protest site in Giza, in a raid that killed hundreds of people.
Mr Badie's arrest is the latest stage in an escalating crackdown by authorities on the Brotherhood in which hundreds have also been arrested. The Brotherhood's near daily protests since Mr Morsi's overthrow have petered out, with scattered demonstrations attracting only hundreds, sometimes just dozens.
Mr Morsi has been detained in an undisclosed location since the July 3 coup, facing accusations of conspiring with the militant Palestinian Hamas group to escape from prison during the 2011 uprising and complicity in the killing and torture of protesters outside his Cairo palace in December.
Meanwhile, Egypt's military-backed government is considering outlawing the Brotherhood, which has spent most of the 85 years since its creation as an illegal organisation. The government is seeking legal advice and has been under growing pressure from the media and secular politicians to declare it a terrorist group.
Mr Badie's arrest came after suspected Islamic militants ambushed two minibuses carrying off-duty policemen in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula early on Monday, forcing the men to lie on the sand and shooting 25 of them dead.
The killings were near the border town of Rafah in northern Sinai. A few hours later, militants shot dead a senior police officer in el-Arish, another city in the largely lawless area,.
The Sinai attack came a day after security forces killed 36 detainees during a riot on a prison-bound truck convoy north of Cairo. The killings came as police fired tear gas to free a guard who was trapped in the melee, security officials said.
Elsewhere, an Egyptian journalist working for a state-run daily was shot dead by soldiers at a military checkpoin. Tamer Abdel-Raouf from Al-Ahram and a colleague were on the road after finishing a late-night interview with the recently appointed governor of Beheira province.
They were stopped at a checkpoint, asked for identification papers and told they had broken the dusk-to-dawn curfew. The two then drove off without permission and a soldier from the checkpoint opened fire, killing Abdel-Raouf. His colleague was injured when their car hit a tree.