Gunmen kill policeman in Egypt

By The Associated Press | Posted - Dec. 27, 2014 at 12:30 p.m.


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CAIRO (AP) — Gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed an Egyptian policeman and wounded a second who were guarding banks in a busy commercial district of the capital Cairo on Saturday, Egypt's state news agency said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack which took place at daybreak in the usually busy Sphinx Square, across the Nile from downtown Cairo. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, an extremist outfit allied with the Islamic State group, has claimed responsibility for a string of similar attacks against police and soldiers, mainly in the restive northern Sinai province.

Authorities are on high alert during the holiday season, with reinforcements deployed in the capital and around hotels and churches. Militant attacks have been on the rise since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last year following mass protests against his yearlong rule.

Last year the government declared Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. The Brotherhood has condemned the militant attacks and insists it is committed to peaceful protests demanding Morsi's reinstatement.

Morsi and many of the group's top leaders were arrested following his overthrow and are now being tried on a wide array of charges, some of which are punishable by death.

On Saturday, Mohammed el-Beltagy, a leading Brotherhood member, was sentenced to six years in prison for insulting a panel of judges. Presiding judge Shaaban el-Shami accused el-Beltagy of insulting him during the proceedings for a case in which he and 130 other defendants are accused of staging prison breaks during the January 2011 uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

El-Beltagy had protested el-Shami's registration of evidence from within a glass cage used to hold defendants. When the judge ordered him out of the room for causing chaos, el-Beltagy said: "This is not justice." The judge took his remarks as an insult, and found el-Beltagy in contempt of court for the second time since the trial began. El-Beltagy was also fined $2,800.

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