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Tension builds in Egypt as attacks escalate

CAIRO — A string of attacks killed nine members of Egypt's security and military forces and hit the country's main satellite communications station Monday in apparent retaliation by Islamic militants a day after more than 50 supporters of the ousted president were killed in clashes with police.

The attacks show a dangerous expansion of targets, including the first strike against civilian infrastructure in the heart of the capital. They also blur the lines between the wave of Islamist protests against the military ouster of President Mohammed Morsi and an insurgency that had previously been largely confined to the northern Sinai Peninsula.

They also are likely to harden the positions of the military-backed government and its opponents, making reconciliation more difficult.

"We are at war with them," said Mohammed Ibrahim, the country's interior minister in charge of security forces, referring to militant groups. He suggested the surge in attacks, particularly the targeting of the satellite station — which left minor damage on one of the dishes — was in retaliation for the government crackdown on Sunday's protests.

In another development Monday likely to give momentum to the government crackdown on Islamists, a panel of judges recommended the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, the Freedom and Justice Party, which was registered months after the 2011 ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The judges' recommendation said the party represents an outlawed group. The recommendation will be delivered to a Cairo court reviewing a case demanding the party's dissolution on Oct. 19.

Another court had already ordered a ban on the Brotherhood's activities and frozen its assets, a decision currently being reviewed by a government-appointed committee amid legal challenges from group members.

Ashraf Badreddin, a member of the Freedom and Justice Party, said authorities had already shut down offices of the party long before the court decision, telling Doha-based satellite broadcaster Al-Jazeera Mubasher Masr that the recommendation was "politicized."

At least 2,000 of the group's leading and mid-level members have been detained, including Morsi and the head of the Freedom and Justice Party, Saad el-Katatni. Most of them will face trial on charges that range from murder and inciting violence to abuse of power and conspiring with foreign powers. Hundreds of others have died in a violent crackdown on protests and sit-ins held by Morsi supporters.

Authorities accuse pro-Morsi supporters of seeking to create chaos to discredit the new government. The government declared it is waging a war against terrorism.

Pro-Morsi supporters deny that they resort to violence.

Tension builds in Egypt as attacks escalate 10/07/13 [Last modified: Monday, October 7, 2013 11:40pm]

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