Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 16:26 UK

Egypt arrests 25 in 'Suez plot'

Shipping in Suez Canal. File image.
The Suez Canal is a vital maritime transport link

Egyptian officials say 25 militants suspected of having al-Qaeda links have been arrested for plotting attacks on ships in the Suez Canal.

The interior ministry said the alleged militant cell was led by a Palestinian and the other members were Egyptians.

The group planned to use explosives fitted with mobile phone-activated detonators against shipping in the canal, the statement said.

It said that most of those arrested were engineers or technicians.

"They believe in takfiri and jihadi thought," said the statement, referring to the radical ideology followed by al-Qaeda. Takfir is the doctrine of declaring people to be unbelievers who are fit to be killed and jihad means holy war.

The ministry said one of the suspects crossed into the Gaza Strip to meet members of the al-Qaeda-linked Palestinian Army of Islam group and receive instructions on attacking targets in Egypt.

It also said that the cell had been responsible for an armed robbery on a Coptic Christian-owned jewellery shop in Cairo in May last year in which the owner and four members of staff were killed.

Officials said they had found the gun used in the attack.

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