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Egyptian officials order arrests of Islamist leaders

CAIRO — Egypt’s new military-led government took further steps Wednesday to cripple the Muslim Brotherhood in the week since the country’s Islamist president was deposed and detained, issuing formal arrest warrants for the group’s top spiritual leader and at least nine other senior figures accused of inciting deadly protests.

The general prosecutor’s office said Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, along with top officials in the group’s Freedom and Justice Party and allied Islamist political parties, were wanted for “planning, inciting, and aiding criminal acts” outside the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo where Mohammed Morsi, the ousted president, was believed to be held in military custody.

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Soldiers and police officers killed at least 51 people and wounded hundreds early Monday near the headquarters, most of them unarmed demonstrators who had been demanding the release and reinstatement of Morsi, the first freely-elected president in Egypt. The military said armed protesters instigated the violence, the deadliest since the 2011 Egyptian revolution, which overthrew Morsi’s autocratic predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates have called Morsi’s ouster a military coup that has reinvigorated the security apparatus of the Mubarak era. They have rejected as lies the military’s claims that it wants to return quickly to full civilian control and create an inclusive government.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that they had also ordered 200 people held in custody for at least 15 days pending further investigation into their suspected role in Monday’s mayhem and released 446 others on bail, according to Ahram Online, the website of Egypt’s leading newspaper.

At the same time, the new interim government appeared to be gaining more credibility — and generous offers of financial aid — from its autocratic Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf, who were happy to see the Brotherhood’s political ascendance blunted in Egypt. Kuwait said it would provide an aid package worth $4 billion, adding to the $8 billion in grants, loans, and fuel promised Tuesday by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The donations are needed urgently because the turmoil surrounding Morsi’s overthrow has pushed the teetering Egyptian economy closer to the brink of collapse.

The United States also sent further signals of cautious approval, even as some members of Congress question whether US aid to Egypt’s military should be cut for its role in ousting Morsi. Pentagon officials said Wednesday that the administration would proceed with sending four F-16 warplanes to Egypt this summer under a 2009 commitment to deliver 20 of the aircraft during 2013. An initial batch was sent in January.

Egypt receives about $1.5 billion annually in US military and economic assistance, but the Obama administration would be required to halt that assistance if it determined that the Egyptian military had participated in a coup against a democratically elected government. Administration officials have said they are watching the actions of the Egyptian military during the chaotic transition to new political leadership.

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