Egypt tightens security, warns Muslim Brotherhood

Reuters

By Michael Georgy

CAIRO, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Egyptian authorities warned theIslamist Muslim Brotherhood on Saturday against staging violentprotests and tightened security in all cities and strategicinstallations after clashes on Friday killed at least fourpeople.

Supporters of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi onFriday mounted their boldest demonstrations since troops crushedtheir protest camps demanding his reinstatement on Aug. 14.

Both opponents and supporters of the Brotherhood have calledfor mass protests on Sunday, when the country plans to celebratethe anniversary of an Egyptian attack on Israeli forces in theSinai during the 1973 war.

"The Ministry of Interior asserts its determination onconfronting violence and infringements of the law by MuslimBrotherhood supporters," a ministry statement said.

"Security has been stepped up on highways, in all cities andat important installations. The Ministry of Interior warnsagainst attempting to spoil the 6th of October commemoration."

The military boosted its presence around Tahrir Square -where hundreds of thousands of Egyptians demonstrated during therevolt that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 - afterclashes on Friday in several cities.

Political tensions have gripped Egypt and hammered theeconomy since the army ousted Mursi in July, installed aninterim government and presented a political roadmap it promisedwould bring fair elections.

In an apparent attempt to reassure Egyptians concerned byinstability, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said in a statementto the nation on Saturday that "evil elements" still posed adanger but had lost much of their power, a reference to Islamistmilitants.

Beblawi said the political roadmap was "taking its naturalcourse" and that he hoped it would conclude soon. He said theeconomy was starting to improve and "there were clear signs andreassuring indicators".

Authorities have cracked down hard on the Brotherhood, whichwon every election since Mubarak's fall but became unpopularduring Mursi's rule, with many Egyptians accusing him of tryingto acquire sweeping powers and mismanaging the economy,allegations he denies.

The Brotherhood accuses the military of staging a coup andsabotaging Egypt's democracy by removing Mursi, the country'sfirst freely-elected president.

On Aug. 14, Egypt's military-backed authorities smashed thetwo pro-Mursi sit-ins in Cairo, with hundreds of deaths, andthen declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew.

Many of the Brotherhood's leaders have been arrested since,raising fears that members of the movement might resort toviolence against the state.

Attacks by Islamist militants in the Sinai, which bordersIsrael, have risen sharply since Mursi was toppled. Concerns aregrowing that an Islamist insurgency will take hold beyond theSinai.

In September, a Sinai-based militant group claimedresponsibility for a failed suicide bombing against the interiorminister in Cairo.

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