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Egypt braces for nationwide anti-government protests

Egyptian authorities have arrested dozens of suspected Islamists ahead of the opposition's call for nationwide rallies. Meanwhile, gunmen shot dead a senior army officer and wounded two soldiers in the capital Cairo.

Egypt's interior ministry said on Friday that the police had detained 107 alleged members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood on suspicion of planning violent protests after Friday prayers.

The anti-government demonstrations were called by Salafi Front, a lesser-known outfit believed to be part of Islamist groups opposing the army's rule and the overthrow of former President Mohammed Morsi last year. The Muslim Brotherhood endorsed the protests - the first major attempt by the supporters of the jailed president in recent months to hold large scale demonstrations.

Egyptian authorities beefed up security in the capital and other major cities on Friday. All roads leading to government headquarters, the presidential palace and the defense ministry were sealed off.

Meanwhile, unidentified assailants in a car killed an army colonel and injured two soldiers outside a hotel in eastern Cairo on Friday, said the officials. Interior Ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif said the police dismantled seven bombs around the country.

Militants have killed scores of security personnel since Morsi's ouster. Many of these attacks have taken place in the north of the Sinai Peninsula where Egypt's Islamists have joined hands with the Sunni militant group, "Islamic State," which controls parts of Syria and Iraq.

shs/kms (AFP, AP)

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