Egypt arrests militants, links them to Muslim Brotherhood

November 4, 2016 12:08 PM EDT

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By Ahmed Aboulenein

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian authorities said on Friday they had arrested members of two recently emerged militant groups, along with weapons, explosives and evidence that the organizations had been set up by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Police detained five leaders and other members of the Hasam Movement and Louwaa al-Thawra, the Interior Ministry said - both groups that have claimed responsibility for assassination attempts on judges, policemen and military officers.

There was no immediate comment from either organization or from the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which says it is a peaceful movement and accuses the government of abuses.

The Brotherhood won Egypt's first free elections after the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

But the Brotherhood leader who became president, Mohamed Mursi, was himself deposed after mass protests against his rule and replaced by the army's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013.

Sisi has since overseen a crackdown on opposition in which hundreds of Brotherhood supporters were killed and thousands, including Mursi, jailed or sentenced to death.

Both Hasam - an acronym in Arabic for the Forearms of Egypt Movement which doubles as the word for decisiveness - and Louwaa al-Thawra, or the Revolution Brigade, have claimed responsibility for attacks, saying they are taking revenge for the government crackdown.

Earlier on Friday, a judge who tried Mursi survived an assassination attempt when a parked car exploded as his vehicle drove by. Hasam claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened other judges.

Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat, who referred many Brotherhood leaders to trial, was killed in June 2015 by a car bomb. The Interior Ministry said on Friday it found letters from Brotherhood leaders admitting it carried out the assassination.

Also on Friday, a senior Egyptian general was shot dead by militants on Friday near his home in North Sinai where an Islamic State insurgency is raging, the second such incident in as many weeks.

Louwaa al-Thawra had claimed responsibility for a similar attack on Oct. 22.

An Islamist insurgency in the rugged and thinly populated Sinai Peninsula gained pace after the military overthrew Mursi. Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed.

(Additional reporting by Haitham Ahmed; Editing by Richard Balmforth)



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