Egyptian officials say they have arrested the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader, Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie, in Cairo. The military government declared a state of national mourning for policemen killed in Sinai.
State media reported early on Tuesday that security forces had arrested the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Badie, "after information came to the security apparatus locating his place of hiding."
Badie was reportedly found in an apartment in the Nasr City district in eastern Cairo, near the site of the largest protest sit-in that was forcibly cleared by Egyptian police last week. The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose title is translated as both Supreme Guide and General Guide in English, is accused of complicity in the death of protesters outside the Brotherhood's headquarters in June. He was due in court later this month.
Badie's 38-year-old son, a computer engineer, was shot dead in clashes between police and protesters on Friday.
Many leading and midranking Brotherhood members are currently sought by investigators in Egypt. Prosecutors on Monday ordered that ousted President Mohammed Morsi remain in custody for another 15 days.
Separately, lawyers for previous president Hosni Mubarak said they believed their client could soon go free after he was cleared of one of several charges against him on Monday.
National mourning declared
On Monday, Interim President Adly Mansour declared a national state of mourning in Egypt after 25 off-duty policemen were shot dead in the troubled Sinai province, which borders the Gaza Strip. Suspected Islamist militants ambushed two minibuses carrying off-duty officers, apparently establishing that the men were security forces staff before killing them. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Monday's attack on police followed the deaths of 36 Muslim Brotherhood detainees in a convoy of prison-bound trucks to the north of Cairo. Egyptian officials initially defended the police action, saying the men suffocated in tear gas when trying to escape and blaming gunmen seeking to help them get free. Subsequently, however, authorities said two officers had been arrested over the incident.
EU to meet, Merkel calls situation "concerning"
In an interview published in the Tuesday edition of the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the current situation in Egypt "very concerning."
"Nevertheless, we will not relent in our diplomatic efforts," Merkel told the paper. "We demand emphatically that the democratic process is restarted as quickly as possible and that all political powers can take part in it." The chancellor urged "those responsible on all sides" to refrain from violence. She also referred to the country's importance to stability in the wider region.
Merkel has already mooted the possibility of halting arms deliveries to Egypt as a response to the unrest following Morsi's ouster. This issue is likely to be discussed, among others, when European Union foreign ministers convene for an emergency meeting on Egypt this Wednesday. The date for the meeting was set by ambassadors on Monday, also tasked with hammering out proposals and plans for the ministers to discuss.
"We will make a list of proposals and put them on the table, but only ministers will decide on Wednesday," senior EU diplomat Bernadino Leon said.
A state of emergency and nighttime curfew are in effect in Egypt since major unrest began when police violently cleared two protest camps filled with supporters of Morsi last week.
The government has also allowed security forces to use deadly force against civilians in self-defense. At least 800 people, the majority of them Morsi supporters, are believed to have died in Egypt since Wednesday.
msh/jm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
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