Opposition leaders arrested in Egypt
Posted on: 12:42 PM IST Jan 28, 2011
Cairo: Egyptian authorities have arrested a number of dissidents, including eight leaders of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood opposition group, a news report said early on Friday.
The arrests took place overnight after the group called on its members to take part in planned demonstrations against the government after Friday prayers, broadcaster al-Jazeera said.
Further protests broke out during the night, and the toll for the week's unrest reached seven on Thursday as two protesters were shot dead in North Sinai.
Demonstrators have been calling for democracy, the ouster of President Hosny Mubarak, in power for 30 years, and more employment opportunities. Around a thousand have been arrested.
Internet access was crippled on Thursday night and certain websites had been blocked entirely, including international news sites, social networking sites, and the websites of the Egyptian government and the US embassy in Cairo, news broadcaster CNN reported. Text messaging had also been blocked.
Egypt's protesters hope to emulate the Tunisian uprising that toppled president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, after nearly 23 years in power.
The government has said that any further demonstrations would not be tolerated, but the opposition has called on people to take to the streets after mid-day prayers in Cairo and other major cities.
The authorities were said to have planned to prevent Friday prayers from taking place in several mosques, website Akher al-Akhbar said.
Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed El Baradei arrived in Cairo on Thursday. The Nobel Peace Prize winner and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has indicated he would help head a transitional government should Mubarak step down.