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Dec 20, 1:00 PM EST

Egypt security official says nearly 10,000 detained in crackdown on militants, rioters

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CAIRO (AP) -- Egyptian security forces have detained nearly 10,000 suspected militants, rioters and others wanted in violent attacks over the past 12 months in a crackdown a senior interior ministry official said Saturday targets those attempting to curtail Egypt's development.

The comments by Major Gen. Abdel-Fattah Osman, an aide to the interior minister for media affairs, to the official news agency MENA are a rare account of the number of people authorities have arrested amid a widening crackdown that has included Islamists, as well as secular critics of the government.

It doesn't however account for the total number of people believed to have been put behind bars since the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. Security officials estimate that more than 20,000 have been arrested since then.

Authorities have since made protesting illegal without prior permits from security officials, leaving thousands of protesters subjected to the law harshly criticized by rights groups and activists. The government had also declared the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which Morsi hails, as a terrorist organization blaming it for most of the violent attacks against security and military troops which have surged since Morsi's ouster. The group denies the charges.

Hundreds have also been killed in a violent security crackdown on supporters of Morsi soon after his ouster. The violence and the protests have relatively died down. Morsi and most of the Brotherhood senior leadership, along with thousands others, are on trial on various charges involving violence.

Osman said security forces have foiled about 400 terrorist attacks since January. He said the security forces also arrested 460 suspected members of terrorist cells, 6,400 rioters, 50 wanted militants, and some 2,600 accused of attacking police stations.

He said the crackdown also included 119 administrators of social media pages which authorities consider as inciting against the police. He didn't say whether all 9,983 apprehended are facing trials.

Osman said the forces have also seized 5 tons of TNT explosives, eight rockets and 263 hand grenades.

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