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Egypt beefs up security amid Qatar row

Forces on alert for potential threats from terror groups linked to Doha

Gulf News

Cairo: Egyptian authorities have increased security against potential terror attacks in response to the country’s decision last week to break off ties with Qatar for supporting terrorism.

Security has been tightened around vital state installations and places of worship, mainly churches, and access routes to the volatile North Sinai, security sources said.

Police patrols have also been increased around public parks.

Authorities have also got in touch with monasteries urging them to limit visitor numbers given the potential terror threats, the sources added in media remarks.

“Security alert has been raised in view of the current situation in the region,” an unnamed official at the Interior Ministry told private newspaper Al Shorouk.

Interior Minister Majdi Abdul Ghafar has sounded an alert across various sectors, according to the official.

“The measure has been taken in anticipation of terrorist elements’ exploitation of the current regional circumstances to carry out hostile operations against innocent citizens.”

The interior minister this week met with senior aides and security directors across Egypt and reviewed plans to confront potential threats.

“The present situation in the Middle East calls for vigilance as the terrorist groups may carry out counter-attacks after the noose has been tightened around them,” the official added.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have come out with terror lists blacklisting 59 figures and 12 groups associated with Qatar.

The blacklisting came days after the four countries severed diplomatic links with Qatar over its support and funding for terrorist organisations.

The blacklisted figures include 26 Egyptians several of whom have been convicted in their home country of inciting violence or active involvement in such crimes.

Doha has snubbed Cairo’s repeated requests to hand over convicted fugitives in its protection who are members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood or its sympathisers.

Egypt has experienced a series of militant attacks since the army’s 2013 toppling of former president Mohammad Mursi, a senior Brotherhood official, following massive street protests against his divisive rule.

The attacks have targeted mainly security forces and Egypt’s Christian minority.

Last month, 29 people were killed in an attack claimed by Daesh on a bus transporting Christians to a monastery in South Egypt. The assault was the latest in a string of attacks on Christians.

In April, Egypt imposed a nationwide state of emergency in the wake of deadly twin attacks against churches on Palm Sunday.