Egypt frees 950 former militants

Daily Star Egypt Staff
2 Min Read

CAIRO: Egyptian authorities have released some 950 detained former members of the militant Gamaa Al-Islamiya (Islamic Group) in the past six weeks, including 300 on Tuesday, police sources said on Wednesday. The Egyptian government detained many thousands of Gamaa members or sympathizers in the 1990s, when the group was waging a low-level guerrilla war against the security forces, mainly in the south of the country. Gamaa Al-Islamiya merged in the late 1970s with another Islamist group, Al-Jihad. They are held responsible for planning and carrying out the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981. Hundreds have come out of detention over the years after renouncing violence to overthrow the government. Gamaa leaders declared a truce with the government in 1997, after an attack on tourists at a pharaonic temple in Luxor. The big release on Tuesday was to mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, a traditional occasion for setting prisoners free, the police sources said. An official security source, cited by the state news agency MENA, said that 950 could be the number of people released over long past periods. He gave no indication of the time frame

Another official source, who asked not to be named, said that 2,000 Gamaa members remain in detention in Egypt, among a total of 12,000 people held without charge under emergency law, mainly for political reasons.

The government has never said how many militants remain in detention without trial or charge. The U.S. State Departments cites estimates of 10,000 detainees in all. Agencies

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