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Saturday 10 December 2016

Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas accused of killing Egypt chief prosecutor

Published 06/03/2016 | 16:26

Egyptian police officers stand guard at the site of a bombing that killed Egypt's top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, in Cairo (AP)
Egyptian police officers stand guard at the site of a bombing that killed Egypt's top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, in Cairo (AP)

A bombing which killed Egypt's chief prosecutor last year was carried out by members of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood who had been trained in the Gaza Strip by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, officials have said.

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Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar said dozens of people have been detained in connection with the killing of 65-year-old Hisham Barakat in Cairo last June, the first assassination of a senior Egyptian official in 25 years.

"Hamas trained, prepared, and oversaw the implementation" of the attack, said Mr Abdel-Ghaffar in an address broadcast by state and private media, which also aired confessions by some of the alleged perpetrators.

There have been no credible claims of responsibility for the attack. The Brotherhood denied any involvement. Hamas could not immediately be reached for comment.

Egypt has seen a wave of attacks mainly targeting security forces since the 2013 military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, who hailed from the Brotherhood. The government has blamed most of the violence on the Brotherhood - including attacks claimed by more extreme groups - and has branded it a terrorist group.

Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood, but has denied carrying out attacks outside Israel and the Palestinian territories. The Egyptian government says insurgents have used tunnels between Hamas-ruled Gaza and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula to smuggle in arms.

Mr Barakat was killed by a large car bomb outside his home on June 29. He had led the prosecution of Muslim Brotherhood members, including Morsi, who was Egypt's first freely elected president but faced mass protests after a divisive year in power.

The government responded to the assassination by pushing through a wide-ranging anti-terrorism law which broadened the definition of terrorism, gave police greater powers of arrest, and tightened restrictions on free speech.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied the accusations, saying they are "baseless and are not in harmony with the efforts being exerted to develop the relationship between Hamas and Cairo".

Press Association

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