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Egypt applies harsher terrorism penalties as Brotherhood crackdown continues - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Riot police officers take positions in front of Cairo University, as students who are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and deposed President Mohamed Mursi, plan a protest against former Defence Minister Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after Sisi announced that he will run for presidential elections, March 30, 2014.  (Reuters.Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Riot police take positions in front of Cairo University as students who support the Muslim Brotherhood and deposed President Mohamed Mursi plan a protest against Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi after he announced he will run for presidential elections, on March 30, 2014. (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Two members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood were reported killed on Friday in a shootout with police in the Nile Delta, a day after the Egyptian government said it will speed up the implementation of new penalties for membership in the proscribed group.

A statement from the office of Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehlab on Thursday said that these penalties, which are introduced in a draft amendment to the anti-terror law approved by the Cabinet but not yet ratified by the president, will be implemented even though they are not yet formally part of the law. The new, enhanced penalties apply to anyone who joins the group, continues to be a member of the group, promotes the Brotherhood or its ideology, or finances the group in any way.

In late March, a court sentenced 529 Brotherhood members to death on a variety of anti-terror charges. The country’s criminal courts are also currently holding a number of mass trials of Brotherhood supporters which apply the new anti-terror legislation.

MENA, Egypt’s state news agency, reported on Friday that two members of the Brotherhood were killed in a shootout with security forces north of Cairo after opening fire on police on a road between the cities of Tanta and Al-Mahalla Al-Kubra in the Nile Delta province of Gharbiya. A third assailant was reportedly arrested.

Violence has escalated in the North African country after the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi last July. The military-backed interim authorities designated the Islamist group as a terrorist organization in December, after a series of attacks on state infrastructure and police the government blames on the Brotherhood, although the Islamic movement denies those allegations.

Cairo has increasingly been threatened by explosive devices over the past week, after two people were killed in a bomb attack outside Cairo University last week. Egyptian police have since announced that they have uncovered and defused a number of explosive devices both at Cairo University and elsewhere.

The latest incident involved a home-made explosive device being placed under the car of a Giza traffic officer on Thursday. The officer sustained minor injuries in the attack.

A high-level Egyptian security official speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity commented on the increasing number of bomb attacks in the capital, saying: “These incidents will not deter the Interior Ministry from continuing its war against terrorism, and we will strongly confront anybody involved with these terrorist operations. The objective of planting these bombs is to spread fear and terror among the citizens.”