Belfast Telegraph

Friday 21 November 2014

Army chief warns over Egypt clashes

A supporter of ousted president Mohammed Morsi aims his gun at a car driver in Cairo (AP)
A supporter of ousted president Mohammed Morsi aims his gun at a car driver in Cairo (AP)
Armed supporters of Mohammed Morsi walk the streets of Cairo (AP)
Morsi supporters carry the coffin of a colleague killed during Wednesday's clashes in Cairo (AP)

Egypt's military leader has vowed that the army will not tolerate further political violence after nationwide clashes killed hundreds, as security forces detained Muslim Brotherhood members in raids aimed at disrupting planned rallies.

Defence minister General Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, who led the July 3 coup that toppled president Mohammed Morsi, again said the army has no intention of seizing power in the Arab world's most populous country.

Mr El-Sissi removed Mr Morsi after four days of mass rallies by millions of Egyptians who demanded the president step down.

Clashes between Morsi supporters and police killed 79 people on Saturday alone, according to a government tally. That raised the death toll for four days of unrest across the country to 888 people killed.

"We will not stand by silently watching the destruction of the country and the people or the torching the nation and terrorising the citizens," Mr El-Sissi said in a speech aired on state television. The general said that the military did not seek power but instead "have the honour to protect the people's will - which is much dearer (than) ruling Egypt".

Mr El-Sissi also said Islamists must be included in the country's politics moving forward. A military timetable calls for the nation's constitution to be amended and for presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in 2014.

"We have given many chances ... to end the crisis peacefully and call for the followers of the former regime to participate in rebuilding the democratic track and integrate in the political process and the future map instead of confrontations and destroying the Egyptian state," he told a gathering of top military commanders and police chiefs.

Meanwhile, 36 people were killed when Muslim Brotherhood detainees tried to escape from a prison truck convoy in northern Cairo, Egypt's official news agency reported.

The agency said that gunmen exchanged fire with guards of the trucks carrying more than 600 detainees rounded up in earlier street violence between security forces and supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. The official MENA news agency described the detainees and the gunmen as belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The news agency said detainees were being transferred to Abu Zaabal prison in northern Cairo when the attack happened. The official website for Egyptian state television reported that security forces fired tear gas and exchanged gunfire with the attackers.

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