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Thursday, 20th June 2019
2:56:53am

North Africa

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Former Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi has been buried alongside other senior figures of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, his son, Ahmed Mursi, said on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

The burial was attended by members of the family in Cairo’s Nasr City after authorities refused burial in Mursi’s home province of Sharqiya in the Nile Delta, Ahmed Mursi said. 

“We washed his noble body at Tora prison hospital, read prayers for him at the prison hospital ... and the burial was at the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guides,” Ahmed wrote.

Mursi died on Monday from a heart attack after collapsing in a Cairo court while on trial on espionage charges, authorities and a medical source said. He was 67. 

Mursi, a top figure in the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, had been in jail since being toppled by the military in 2013 after barely a year in power, following mass protests against his rule.

His death is likely to pile international pressure on the Egyptian government over its human rights record, especially conditions in prisons where thousands of Islamists and secular activists are held.

-Reuters

A high-profile Egyptian jihadist who was transferred to Cairo from Libya will face a military tribunal over his alleged involvement in terror attacks, security and judicial sources said on Wednesday.

Egyptian government media broadcast footage of Hisham el-Ashmawy - one of the country's most-wanted militants - being escorted off a military aircraft early Wednesday morning.

Ashmawy was captured by the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) in October 2018 in the eastern city of Derna.

He was returned to his homeland after a meeting between LNA commander Khalifa Haftar and the head of Egypt's intelligence services in Benghazi. 

"Ashmawy is accused in several cases overseen by the military judiciary," an Egyptian source said.

A former officer with Egypt's special forces, Ashmawy was dismissed in 2012 over concerns about his religious views.

He joined the Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis but broke with the group after it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in November 2014.

Known by his nom de guerre "Abu Omar al-Muhajir", Ashmawy announced the formation of an al-Qaeda aligned militant group al-Mourabitoun in Libya in July 2015.

He is accused of being behind attacks in Egypt's Western Desert region.

Authorities have also linked Ashmawy with high-profile attacks including a 2013 assassination attempt on then-interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim and the 2015 killing of a top public prosecutor.

In 2017, he was sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian military court over his involvement with Ansar Beit al-Maqdis in attacking and killing soldiers at a checkpoint near the porous border with Libya.

He will face a retrial after his return to Egypt.

Shortly after his arrest in 2018, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asked for the jihadist leader to be handed over.

"We want him to serve time in prison," said Sisi.

Haftar, who is leading a military offensive against the UN-recognised government in Tripoli, seized the city of Derna last summer.

His forces are backed in particular by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Analysts said that after a stint in captivity in Libya Ashmawy's intelligence value would have dropped.

"Ashmawy has been in LNA custody for almost eight months. He won't be in a position to provide information on any current militant groups in Libya," said Zack Gold, a researcher at CNA in the United States.

But Gold says his return could provide the authorities with information on how he recruited other former military personnel and on previous terror attacks.

"Importantly, but unlikely, the transfer of Ashmawy to Egypt could reveal details about a number of terrorist attacks in Egypt from 2013 onward," he said.

-AFP

An explosion targeting a tourist bus injured at least 12 people on Sunday, mostly South African tourists, near a new museum being built close to the Giza pyramids in Egypt, two security sources said.

A third security source said the bus was carrying 25 South African tourists from the airport to the pyramids area, and that four Egyptians in a nearby car were also injured by broken glass.

Security and judicial sources said a rudimentary device containing nails and pieces of metal had been detonated remotely on the perimeter of the Grand Egyptian Museum, not far from the site of a roadside blast that hit another tourist bus in December.

Pictures posted on social media showed a bus with some of its windows blown out or shattered, and debris in the road next to a low wall with a hole in it.

One witness told Reuters he heard a “very loud explosion” while sitting in traffic.

South Africa’s foreign ministry said three of its citizens would remain in hospital in Egypt for treatment and the rest would return home.

The museum is due to open next year as the new home for some of the country’s top antiquities on a site adjoining the world-famous Giza pyramids. It is part of an effort to boost tourism, a key source of foreign revenue for Egypt.

The sector has been recovering after tourist numbers dropped in the wake of a 2011 uprising and the 2015 bombing of a Russian passenger jet.

There was no damage to the museum from the blast, which happened 50 metres from its outer fence and more than 400 metres from the museum building, the Antiquities Ministry said in a statement.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. 

Egyptian security forces are waging a counter insurgency campaign against Islamist militants, some with links to Islamic State, that is focussed in the north of the Sinai Peninsula.

Attacks outside Sinai have become relatively rare, though there have been several security incidents in recent months in Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo.

In December, three Vietnamese tourists and an Egyptian guide were killed and at least 10 others injured when a roadside bomb hit their tour bus less than 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) from the Giza pyramids.

-Reuters

Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar has ruled out a ceasefire in the battle for Tripoli and accused the United Nations of seeking to partition Libya, according to an interview published by French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) began an offensive in early April to take Tripoli from fighters loyal to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) which has the backing of the United Nations.

The LNA, which is allied to a parallel government in the east, has not been able to breach the southern defences of Tripoli. The fighting has killed at least 510 people, forced 75,000 out of their homes and trapped thousands of migrants in detention centres. 

“Of course, the political solution is still the goal. But to get back to politics, we must first finish with militias,” Haftar told the newspaper.

Haftar also said the head of U.N. mission to Libya, Ghassan Salame, was no longer impartial.

“Partition of Libya is maybe what our adversaries want. This is maybe what Ghassan Salame also wants.”

The flare-up in the conflict in Libya - which has been gripped by anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 - began in early April, when the LNA advanced on the capital.

Even though France and other Western countries officially back the Libyan government, some have supported Haftar as they see him as a bulwark against Islamist militias in the country.

Macron had asked Haftar in a meeting held in Paris this week to make a public step towards a ceasefire, without much luck, a French official told Reuters.

-Reuters

All warring groups in Libya must commit to a ceasefire and return to U.N.-led mediation, the European Union said on Monday, calling the situation a threat to international security.

“The EU calls on all parties to immediately implement a ceasefire and to engage with the United Nations to ensure a full and comprehensive cessation of hostilities,” EU foreign ministers said in a statement after meeting U.N.-backed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj in Brussels.

“It also calls on them to dissociate themselves both publicly and on the ground from terrorist and criminal elements involved in the fighting, and from those suspected of war crimes, including individuals listed by the U.N. Security Council,” the statement said.

The latest flare-up of violence in Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011, began a month ago when eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli. More than 440 people have died and tens of thousands have been displaced, according to the U.N.

-Reuters

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