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Egypt orders arrest of 5 activists

CAIRO — Egypt’s top prosecutor issued arrest warrants on Monday for five rights activists on suspicion of inciting violence against members of the president’s Muslim Brotherhood.

A statement posted on the attorney general’s official Facebook page said all five have also been banned from traveling abroad. The prosecutor also issued summons for a sixth activist, Nawara Negm, daughter of Egypt’s best known satirical poet, for questioning over the same allegations.

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The warrants came a day after Islamist President Mohammed Morsi warned his opponents, saying he may be close to taking unspecified measures to protect the nation. The warning came during a speech in which the president was angry, shouting and pounding on the table at times. Monday’s warrants followed the issuing of summonses earlier in the day for a larger group of politicians and activists for questioning over clashes on Friday outside the Brotherhood’s office, the worst between the group’s members and opponents in three months.

The five activists are: Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Ahmed Douma, Karim El-Shaer, Hazem Abdel-Azim, and Ahmed Ghoneimi. They were at the forefront of both the 18-day uprising against longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and a subsequent campaign against generals who succeeded him and ruled for nearly 17 months.

Abdel-Fattah said minutes after news of the warrants broke that he was consulting with his lawyers on what to do next.

The warrants are a significant escalation in the ongoing tug of war between Morsi and his Islamist allies in one camp and a mostly secular and liberal opposition backed by moderate Muslims, minority Christians and a large segment of educated and urban women in the other.

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