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Coptic priest becomes latest casualty in Egypt's post-Morsi violence

Gunmen have killed a Coptic priest on Egypt's Sinai peninsula, according to security sources, as Islamists voiced their anger over a coup. The deputy head of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has been arrested in Cairo.

Gunmen shot dead the 39-year-old cleric in Northern Sinai's provincial capital, el-Arish. Supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi have attacked churches in six cities since the army ousted the Islamist president on Wednesday, the Maspero Youth Coalition activist group reported. The priest becomes the 36th person killed since Morsi's removal from office Wednesday.

The Muslim Brotherhood had criticized Coptic Pope Tawadros, the leader of Egypt's 8 million Christians, for giving his blessing to the removal of the president and attending the announcement by armed forces commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi suspending the constitution. Security sources accused Islamists of the priest's murder in the coastal city, one of several attacks attributed to Brotherhood loyalists, including firing at four military checkpoints in the region.

Saturday's attacks on checkpoints took place in al-Mahajer, al-Safaa in Rafah, Sheikh Zuwaid and al-Kharouba. The violence follows attacks that killed five police offers in el-Arish on Friday.

Another imprisoned leader

Lawyers for Hosni Mubarak, overthrown to pave the way for an election that gave rise to Morsi's short stint, entered a not guilty plea when the ex-leader's retrial for alleged complicity in the killings of protesters in 2011 resumed on Saturday. Mubarak and seven top security chiefs face charges of incitement in the killings of protesters who rose up against him in early 2011. Mubarak and his two sons also face corruption charges.

On Saturday, Cairo's criminal court heard defense submissions before adjourning proceedings until August 17. At the previous hearing, on June 10, the court received as evidence cartons filled with police notebooks and videos of demonstrations on Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the 2011 revolt during which almost 850 people died.

The original trial last year on charges of complicity in killing demonstrators led to a life sentence for Mubarak and former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, but an appeals court ordered a retrial, citing procedural errors.

‘They went quietly'

Interim President Adly Mansour met Saturday with army chief and Defense Minister General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim. Mansour assumed the presidency on Thursday, the day after Morsi's removal.

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Army remains in charge

The country's clashes have accelerated since Mohammed Badie, the supreme leader of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, defiantly proclaimed that his followers would not give up street action until the toppled president returned to office.

"God make Morsi victorious and bring him back to the palace," Badie proclaimed Friday before cheering supporters at a Cairo mosque in his first appearance since the overthrow. Badie was reported to have been arrested following the coup on Wednesday. "We are his soldiers we defend him with our lives," he added.

On Friday, security forces arrested Khairat el-Shater, widely seen as the organization's most influential and powerful politician behind the ousted Morsi. El-Shater is the latest prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader to be taken into custody since the president was removed from office by the army earlier this week. He was arrested with his brother in an apartment in eastern Cairo on allegations of inciting violence against protesters, Hani Abdel-Latif, a spokesman for Egypt's Interior Ministry, told the AP news agency.

"Khairat el-Shater and his brother have been arrested at the request of the prosecution," an anonymous general from within the Interior Ministry told the news agency AFP. "They went quietly."

mkg/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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