CAIRO, (Reuters) – Egyptian police detained 10 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday evening and Friday morning, part of a wider crackdown that has seen dozens arrested since late last year, the organisation said.
Nine of the detentions were in the Nile Delta province of Beheira northwest of Cairo and one in the capital, the Islamist group’s Web site www.ikhwanonline.com said.
It said that at sunset on Thursday in the Beheira provincial capital Damanhour large numbers of police raided the home of businessman Khaled el-Kamhawi, who was eating dinner with the other Brotherhood members.
Police took Kamhawi and his guests into detention and then searched the houses of the others, it said.
The Brotherhood member detained in Cairo was Abdel Moneim Mahmoud, a prominent young activist who has been coordinating a media campaign for the release of other Brotherhood members.
The Brotherhood is Egypt’s largest opposition group, with about one fifth of the seats in parliament, but the government says it is an illegal organisation.
Police regularly detain prominent members for questioning and the group’s deputy leader, Mohamed Habib, told Reuters that including the latest 10 about 220 members are now in custody.
Habib said the latest detentions were probably related to elections to the upper house of parliament next month, which Brotherhood members might contest.
Some 40 of the 220, including third-in-command Khairat el-Shatir, have been referred to a military tribunal for trial on charges including money laundering and terrorism. The Brotherhood has denied the charges.
The Interior Ministry said it has no information about the latest detentions.