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Mursi being detained for criminal charges

CAIRO — The Egyptian army is detaining ousted President Mohamed Mursi over accusations of kidnapping, killing soldiers and other charges, the state news agency said on Friday.

The army had previously said it was holding Mursi for his own safety and the report was likely to stoke tension before mass rallies today billed as shows of strength between supporters and opponents of the Islamist Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader.

Both sides warned of the potential for bloodshed in Egypt, which has been convulsed by political and economic turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ended 30 years of autocratic rule by the US-backed Hosni Mubarak.

State news agency Mena said the mooted charges against Mursi included conspiring with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, killing prisoners and officers “deliberately with prior intent”, kidnapping officers and soldiers, and setting fire to the prison of Wadi el-Natroun.

They relate to his escape from the prison in 2011, when he was arrested during the uprising against Mubarak, and provide legal grounds for his continued detention.

Mursi has been held by the military since the army ousted him from office on July 3 following huge street protests against his troubled, one-year rule. Washington has previously called for him to be freed.

His Muslim Brotherhood denounced news of the accusations.

“At the end of the day we know all of these charges are nothing more than the fantasy of a few army generals and a military dictatorship,” Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said. “We are continuing our protests on the streets.”

Throwing down the gauntlet to the Brotherhood, army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called on Egyptians to rally nationwide on Friday to give the military a “mandate” to confront weeks of violence unleashed by Mursi’s removal.

A military official said the army had given Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood a Saturday deadline to end its resistance and join a military-set road map to new elections, signaling a turning point in the confrontation.

The Brotherhood fears a crackdown to wipe out an Islamist movement that emerged from decades in the shadows to win every election since Mubarak’s fall but then struggled to tackle Egypt’s growing economic and social woes. (Reuters)

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