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Egypt considering importing weapons from Russia: Interior minister

Mohamed Ibrahim says there are talks with Russia to import arms, to make up for a shortfall

Ahram Online , Sunday 23 Mar 2014
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Egypt's interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim (Photo: Reuters)
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Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said on Sunday that Egypt was facing an arms supply problem and was considering importing weapons from Russia.

"There is a problem because there has been a stifling of arms imports from the United States and the European Union" after the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi  last summer, Ibrahim told a group of journalists at a meeting. 

The interior minister, who was appointed by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi and kept his position after his ouster, also told journalists that security forces had managed to foil an attempt to bomb the railway in the town of Shabin El-Kom in Menoufiya “before a train passed through.”

He described the attempt as an escalation by the Muslim Brotherhood against the Egyptian people.  

The Brotherhood was designated a terrorist organisation by the government in December. The group has denied links to the ongoing militant attacks that have hit Egypt, and particularly its security forces, since Morsi’s ouster.

While attacks by armed men, bombings and drive-by shootings first broke out in the restive Sinai Peninsula, in late 2013 violence spread to different governorates, including the capital.

In response, the army and police launched a crackdown on militants, reportedly leaving hundreds dead.

"The terrorist groups are hiding in rural areas and shanty towns and so we need adequate investigations and preparation in order to make a proper attack plan for such places," Ibrahim told journalists.

Last week army and police force raided a militant hideout in Al-Kanater Al-Khayreya in Qalioubiya governorate. Two army officers were killed in the raid.

Ibrahim also stated that an attack against a military police checkpoint in Qalioubiya governorate which killed six army conscripts last week was actually an operation to avenge the murder of a militant known as Abu Obedia, who the ministry of interior accused of bombing the Cairo security directorate in January. Abu Obedia was killed during a raid to arrest him in early March.

"After the 25 January Revolution, the Egyptian police had a tough two years, leading to a proliferation of weapons and also giving terrorist groups the time to reorganise themselves,” Ibrahim said.

"We will not allow another Rabaa sit-in," he said, referring to attempts by some Morsi supporters to start new sit-ins in areas like Haram and Helwan.

"The Muslim Brotherhood uses the shanty towns and working class areas because it is hard to deal with these places," he said.

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