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Egypt extends state of emergency

Egyptian policemen cordon off an area following a gun attack outside the Mar Mina church south of the capital Cairo, on December 29, 2017
AFP

Cairo (Egypt) (AFP) – Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi extended for three months from Saturday a state of emergency for the fourth time since it was first declared last year, the official gazette said.

A nationwide state of emergency was first imposed in April last year after two church bombings claimed by the Islamic State group killed at least 45 people, and was renewed in July, in October and in January.

“The armed forces and the police will take the necessary measures to confront the dangers of terrorism, its financing, and preserving security across the country,” the official gazette said.

It cited a decree issued by Sisi stating that the renewed three-month state of emergency would take effect from 1:00 am on Saturday (2300 GMT Friday).

The emergency law expands police powers of arrest, surveillance and seizures and can limit freedom of movement.

Under Egypt’s constitution, the three-month state of emergency can only be renewed once, but the president can subsequently reinstate it.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail also extended an overnight curfew in parts of North Sinai, where IS’s Egypt affiliate is based, according to another decree published Saturday by the official gazette.

It would take place in areas including around the town of Rafah bordering the Palestinian Gaza Strip, and around El-Arish, the capital of North Sinai, according to the gazette.

The curfew would stay in effect for as long as the three-month state of emergency, according to the decree.

The jihadist group said it was behind the bombings in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria, and it threatened further attacks against Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority.

Egypt had been ruled for decades under a state of emergency, which was cancelled a month before Islamist president Mohamed Morsi took power in 2012.

Following Morsi’s overthrow by Sisi in 2013, when the president was army chief, a state of emergency was declared for a month.

It came after clashes between police and Islamist protesters that killed hundreds and after Islamist mobs attacked Christian properties.

Sisi was re-elected for a second term with 97 percent of votes in a March 26-28 election, amid a sweeping military operation in Sinai against extremist militants based in the north of the Peninsula.

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