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Gunmen kill police officer as unrest continues in Egypt

EL-ARISH, Egypt — Suspected militants killed an Egyptian police officer on Friday in the Sinai Peninsula, as Islamists held scattered protests around the country, calling for the reinstatement of the nation’s ousted Islamist president.

Gunmen opened fire at the police officer as he walked near his home in the city of el-Arish, an Egyptian security official said.

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Militants have stepped up their attacks against security forces in the restive northern Sinai, prompting the army to launch an operation to quell violent incidents there.

Meanwhile, supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood held scattered demonstrations to protest against the interim government and its crackdown on the Islamist group.

Morsi’s son Osama gave a rare public speech at one protest in the southern city of Minya, speaking to the crowd in a phone call played over loudspeakers. The son told protesters his imprisoned father supported them ‘‘with his heart and in spirit’’ and called on them to ‘‘continue their revolution.’’

The interim government has launched a major security crackdown on the Brotherhood, arresting nearly 2,000 members, charging its top leaders with inciting murder and violence, and breaking up demonstrations with what rights groups call excessive force that has killed hundreds.

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