Egypt Brotherhood leader warned of violence before Mursi's overthrow: report

CAIRO Tue Oct 8, 2013 12:42pm EDT

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CAIRO (Reuters) - The army chief behind the military takeover in Egypt said the Muslim Brotherhood had warned him of attacks if Islamist President Mohamed Mursi were removed from power, an Egyptian newspaper reported on Tuesday.

In an interview with private daily Al Masry Al Youm, General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was quoted as saying that had met Khairat al-Shater, deputy leader of Mursi's Brotherhood, on June 25, five days before the mass protests that led to Mursi's removal on July 3.

"(Shater) threatened terrorist and violent attacks and killings by Islamist groups that neither he nor the Muslim Brotherhood could control," the paper quoted Sisi as saying in the interview, published on Tuesday.

"He said that if the president left his position, these groups would strike and kill, and nobody could control them," Sisi said.

The remark infuriated him, the general said.

"I exploded and told him: 'What do you want? You ruined the country. You either want to rule us or kill us," Sisi recalled himself as saying at the meeting which also included Saad al-Katatni, leader of the Brotherhood's political wing.

It was not possible to get comment from the Brotherhood, as much of the senior leadership, including Shater, have been arrested in a crackdown. A court order has also banned the group.

Since Mursi's overthrow, Sinai-based Islamist militants have launched attacks almost daily on security forces in the area, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip one side and the strategic Suez Canal on the other.

They are the most sustained since an Islamist insurgency that was crushed by then President Hosni Mubarak in the 1990s.

The Brotherhood denies allegations by the military that it has any links to the violence.

There are fears an Islamist insurgency may take hold beyond the Sinai. On Monday suspected militants killed six Egyptian soldiers near the Suez Canal. Gunmen also killed a police officer and wounded another in the Suez Canal city of Port Said on Tuesday, security sources said.

In a meeting with the interior minister on Tuesday, Sisi said there needed to be more coordination between the army and police to preserve security.

"It is necessary to pay attention to all the threats that target Egypt's security and stability," Sisi was reported as saying according to the state news agency.

At least 57 people were killed on Sunday in clashes between pro-Brotherhood supporters with security forces and political opponents, in one of the bloodiest days since the military deposed Mursi.

(Reporting by Maggie Fick,; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Angus MacSwan)

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