An Egyptian official says the country’s northern Sinai border crossing with the Gaza Strip has been closed indefinitely. The decision came hours after Islamic militants attacked four sites in the northern Sinai, targeting two military checkpoints, a police station and the el-Arish airport.
The military and security forces responded to the attacks. One soldier was killed and three were wounded.
Gen. Sami el-Metwali said that the Rafah passage was shut down on Friday. He didn’t say when it would be reopened. Some 200 Palestinians who had already crossed into Egypt were turned back to the Gaza Strip after the order.
The Friday clashes came two days after the Egyptian military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some Islamist elements have pledged to fight the military’s move.
The African Union (AU) on Friday suspended Egypt from all its activities. Suspension is the AU’s usual response to any interruption of constitutional rule by a member state.
“As mandated by the relevant AU instruments, the African Union Peace and Security Council decides to suspend the participation of Egypt in AU activities until the restoration of constitutional order,” Admore Kambudzi, Secretary of the Peace and Security Council, announced.
One man was killed on Friday in a fight between Muslims and Christians in Upper Egypt’s Luxor. Hassan Sayed Sedki, a Muslim resident of western Luxor, was killed at dawn following a political exchange that became violent. In revenge, Muslims burned several Christian homes in the city.
On Thursday, just hours after the army had ousted Morsi, Egyptian prosecutors ordered the arrest of several senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood. These include the Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and his deputy Khairat El-Shater.
Security forces continue efforts to arrest Brotherhood members on charges of inciting violence and disturbing general security and peace, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported.
Late on Wednesday, Saad El-Katatni, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), along with Rashad Bayoumi, the deputy head of the Islamist movement, were detained, and are being held in Tora Prison, on the outskirts of Cairo. It’s the same prison where ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his sons are detained.
The toppled President Morsi is being held at a military intelligence facility.
Members of the Brotherhood are accused of murdering protesters outside the group’s headquarters in the Cairo suburb of Moqattam on June 30. The group allegedly hired and armed some 250 snipers at its headquarters, to kill protesters outside, a source in the judiciary told Al Ahram.
At least eight opposition protesters were killed when those inside fired at youth hurling petrol bombs and stones at the building.