Hundreds of riot police used electric prods and batons to disperse about 300 men demonstrating in front of al-Rifai mosque, one of the main mosques in the northern Sinai town of Al-Arish.


Armoured vehicles blocked the roads leading to the mosque. Police did not interfere in a demonstration of about 200 women, held just a few metres away.


The women, many of them veiled, waved photographs of their detained sons and husbands and chanted, "Stop torture and open prisons!" Others shouted: "Down with the Interior Ministry. Down with emergency laws!"


Posters raised


The demonstrations were held
after Friday prayers

Demonstrators also raised posters accusing a group called Jund al-Sham of being behind the Taba attacks.


"Oh youth, Jund al-Sham blew up Taba. Oh youth, our sons are innocent," the women chanted.


 On Tuesday, an online statement from the group said the 7 October hotel bombings in Taba and Ras Shitan that killed 34 people were retaliation for actions against Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya and Afghanistan.


The group did not directly claim responsibility.


The group has claimed it carried out an attack in Qatar last Saturday that killed a British resident and injured 12 others.


Fifth week


Friday was the fifth week that men and women, mostly Beduin, have demonstrated after weekly prayers against the detention of relatives after the hotel bombings.


"Oh youth, Jund al-Sham blew up Taba. Oh youth, our sons are innocent"

Protesting women

Human rights groups said Egyptian authorities arrested about 2400 people in the wake of the bombings, the first significant attacks in the country since 1997.


The Egyptian government has released some detainees but has not revealed how many people it has in custody.


Last month, Human Rights Watch criticised Egypt for refusing to release the detainees' names or tell relatives where they were being held and whether they had been charged.


The human rights organisation also accused police of torturing some detainees.


Egyptian security forces engaged in shootouts with insurgents in the Sinai hills last month, killing three suspects in the attacks. The government has said that five others implicated in the bombings are in custody.