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Search operations continue in Egypt town

Heavy security presence in Kerdasa, near Cairo, remains as military chief attends funeral of slain police officer.

Last Modified: 20 Sep 2013 19:10
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Scores of people have been arrested in course of the security operation in Kerdasa [EPA]

Egyptian security forces have been searching for supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood after retaking control of a town near Cairo in a crackdown on supporters of the former leader's party.

State television and newspapers said government forces had taken control of the town of Kerdasa on Friday, but security sources said the area had not yet been stabilised.

On Thursday, army and police forces stormed Kerdasa, where hostility to the authorities has grown since the army overthrew and imprisoned Morsi on July 3.

So far 85 people have been arrested and security forces are still scanning the area, officials said.

Of the people arrested, the General Prosecution Office says that 21 were directly involved in an attack on Kerdasa Police station on August 14 that left 11 police and soldiers dead.

Other charges include joining a "terrorist organisation" possessing unlicensed weapons and attacking police and government officials.

A police general was shot dead during Thursday's Kerdasa operation and at least nine policemen and soldiers were wounded by a hand grenade in clashes with armed groups.

Egypt's military chief led the funeral procession for Nabil Farrag on Friday. The ceremony, with full military honours, was broadcast on all state TV channels.

The lead role played by General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi highlighted the authorities' resolve to move against strongholds of armed opposition supporters.

High-level officials in the country's interim government also attended the funeral.

State television said dozens of weapons including rocket-propelled grenades were seized in the security operation.

Security forces had been absent from the area since August 14 when an attack on its main police station left 11 police officers killed.

A police officer at the scene said they have around 150 arrest warrants for people suspected of involvement in attacks on the police station and a church in Kerdasa.

The Kerdasa police station was set on fire after it was hit with rocket-propelled grenades on August 14, the day that police stormed pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo, killing hundreds of his supporters.

Marches continue

As the security operation continues in Kerdasa, elsewhere in the country people are still taking part in the weekly marches that have taken place after prayers each Friday since Morsi was toppled.

Zakaryya Abdel Hady, who teaches Islamic thought and culture at Qatar University, told Al Jazeera that the marches would continue.

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"People in Egypt have realised they are the maker and shaper of society," he said.

"It is not just Muslim Brotherhood members on the streets - they are all out there for the freedom of the choice we have made."

Army-backed authorities, who say they are waging a "war on terrorism", have arrested senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders in an  attempt to neutralise one of the Middle East's most influential Islamist movements.

Armed groups have increased attacks since Morsi's downfall, particularly targeting security forces in the Sinai Peninsula near Israel.

The have also been attacks elsewhere in the country, including a failed suicide bombing attack on the interior minister in Cairo.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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