FIVE people were reportedly killed on Tuesday in an exchange of gunfire between police and Bedouins suspected of involvement in the Red Sea resort bombings in October. According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Interior, the shootings began when the suspects opened fire on the police in a bid to escape a security cordon which stretched around the Al-Mewailah valley near Ras Sedr, south of Sinai. The statement said the police sealed off the area after receiving information that suspected elements were hiding in the valley's mountainous caves.
The exchange of fire, said the ministry, resulted in the death of a suspect, Mohamed Abdel-Rahman, who was in possession of a handgun and an automatic rifle, and the wounding of a policeman. However, other reports said the shootings left three policemen, a bystander and Abdel-Rahman dead.
Abdel-Rahman's name, said the statement, had been given by other suspects interrogated in the Taba bombings who provided information about his role in the attack which killed 34 people. More than 100 people were also reported to have been injured. The biggest of the three attacks was at the hotel in Taba, on Egypt's border with Israel, which was heavily damaged. The other two bombings were in a campsite at Ras Shitan.
The current raids in pursuit of suspects began on 31 January.
In a related development, police clashed with hundreds of demonstrators in Sinai on Friday protesting against the three-month detention of persons held in the course of investigation into the Taba attacks.
Several of the demonstrators were arrested.
The clashes, which erupted outside the municipal offices in the north Sinai town of Arish, left three demonstrators and two police officers with minor injuries, according to Ashraf Ayoub, a member of the Popular Committee for Citizen Rights in North Sinai (CCR) which orchestrated the demonstration. Ten members of the CCR were arrested as well as Ayoub who was released on the same day after being questioned.
"Such a demonstration is a sign of the people's frustration over the prolonged and unjustified periods of detention of their relatives who are being held without charge and the suffering they have been forced to go through as a result," Ayoub told Al-Ahram Weekly by phone.
Many of the detainees, Ayoub said, had told visitors that they had been tortured to extract confessions from them.
The demonstration began as a protest march by mostly women wearing black. They marched from Arish's central mosque following Friday prayers up to the town hall.
Those arrested were questioned and ordered to be remanded for 15 days pending questioning.
TEN suspected members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood were arrested in pre- dawn raids on Monday as part of the Ministry of Interior's clampdown on the group.
All suspects were remanded for 15 days in custody pending further investigation. The suspects were arrested in Sharqiya Governorate, 80 kilometres northeast of Cairo. Police said they seized documents and leaflets in the possession of the suspects which contained ideas which contradict the state's constitution and violate the law.
According to Brotherhood sources, those arrested include three government employees, two doctors, two engineers, one university professor and the imam of a mosque.
AN EGYPTIAN accused of spying for Iran's Revolutionary Guard has pleaded not guilty during the opening session of his trial, saying he had been tortured by intelligence officers while in detention.
The court also heard charges brought against an Iranian diplomat that he gave the defendant, Mahmoud Eid Dabbous, money in exchange for information about the petrochemical complex in the Saudi Port city of Yanbu.
On Saturday, a bearded Dabbous denied the charges, saying they were an insult to the Islamic Republic of Iran, which he referred to as "the last bastion of Islam".
Iran has denied the charges brought against the diplomat, Mohamed Reza Hosseindoust, who is being tried in absentia, saying they were "baseless".
According to the indictment, Dabbous sent Iran's Revolutionary Guard information which would facilitate the targeting of strategic areas in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The prosecution charged that Dabbous had shared information with people working for the Revolutionary Guard in order to help them plan and carry out terrorist operations inside the country.
At the time of his arrest the prosecutor- general said Dabbous had supplied Hosseindoust with information that assisted him in spearheading May's Yanbu attack which killed five Western engineers. Dabbous denied the charge.
Iran has not had formal diplomatic ties with Egypt since its revolution in 1979 when Tehran broke off relations after Egypt signed its peace treaty with Israel. However, there are reports that the two countries might restore relations pending agreement on cooperation on security matters.
A SINAI court has dismissed a case demanding compensation from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon over accusations he was involved in the torture and killing of thousands of Egyptian prisoners of war during the 1967 Egyptian-Israeli war.
The court instead fined lawyer Mahmoud Said Lotfi, who filed the lawsuit, LE500 for failing to provide sufficient evidence supporting the case.
Lotfi, a member of the Afro-Asian Lawyers Syndicate, filed the case last year, accusing Sharon of involvement in the torture and killing of 16,000 Egyptian POWs, including burying some of the them alive. Lotfi had asked for $60 million in compensation.
Compiled by: Jailan Halawi