Egyptian presidential hopeful apologizes to arrested supporters

In this file photo, Egypt’s former prime minister Ahmed Shafik speaks during an interview with Reuters at his residence in Abu Dhabi, Feb.6, 2013. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 December 2017
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Egyptian presidential hopeful apologizes to arrested supporters

CAIRO: Egyptian presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafik apologized on Saturday to supporters who were arrested this week and called on authorities to resolve the situation.
Police arrested three members of Shafik’s Egyptian National Movement on Wednesday and charged them with spreading false information harmful to national security, two security sources told Reuters.
Shafik, a former prime minister and ex-air force commander who is seen as the most serious potential challenger to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in an election due early next year, apologized for the trouble caused to the detainees and their families.
“I call on the relevant authorities to clarify the situation quickly, for it is dangerous,” Shafik said on his Twitter account.
President Sissi, a former military chief, is seen by many Egyptians as the only person able to provide stability after years of turmoil that followed the 2011 uprising that ousted veteran leader Hosni Mubarak.
Shafik recently returned from exile in the United Arab Emirates to where he fled in 2012 after a narrow electoral defeat to Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mursi was removed from office in a military takeover led by Sissi in 2013.
Two weeks ago, Shafik said he was still deciding whether or not to run for the presidency in 2018.


Gaza truce holds after Israeli strikes over soldier death

Updated 9 min 13 sec ago
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Gaza truce holds after Israeli strikes over soldier death

  • Israel’s army and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined to confirm a truce was reached
  • The United Nations urged all sides to step “back from the brink” after months of increasing tensions

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: A cease-fire announced by Hamas largely held Saturday after a wave of deadly strikes across the Palestinian enclave sparked by the death of an Israeli soldier shot near the border.
Israel did not confirm the deal announced by Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, which went into effect around midnight Friday.
Since then there have been no reports of Israeli air strikes on the blockaded enclave or of mortar fire from Gaza toward Israel.
“With Egyptian and UN efforts, we reached (an agreement) to return to the previous state of calm between the (Israeli) occupation and the Palestinian factions,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.
He gave no details of the deal.
Israel’s army and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined to confirm a truce was reached.
“All we can say is that there have been no incidents or Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip since the last wave of airstrikes on Friday night,” a military spokeswoman told AFP.
On Friday, three Hamas militants were killed as air raids sent fireballs exploding into the sky over Gaza, while Israel said rockets had been fired back at its territory. A fourth Palestinian was shot dead in protests near the border.
The United Nations urged all sides to step “back from the brink” after months of increasing tensions.
The soldier, shot dead along the border in southern Gaza, was the first to be killed in and around the Palestinian enclave since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.
Friday’s flare-up is the latest as demonstrations and clashes on the frontier since March have seen at least 149 Palestinians killed.
The Israeli army said they struck 60 Hamas sites including weapon manufacturing sites, a drone warehouse and a military operations room.
The cease-fire is the second since in a week.
Last weekend saw the most severe exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since the 2014 war.