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Al Qaeda urges Egyptians to topple government as Egypt preps for vote

Egyptian security forces seen in Arish, following an attack which was claimed by Daesh, on 19 December 2017 [Anadolu Agency]
Egyptian security forces seen in Arish, following an attack which was claimed by Daesh, on 19 December 2017 [Anadolu Agency]

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has urged Egyptians to topple their government in the second message from militants this week calling for violence in Egypt where presidential elections are due in March.

Egypt has stepped up its battle with militants ahead of the vote on March 26-28. Cairo launched the latest military offensive against a Daesh branch in Sinai which has killed hundreds of police and soldiers and some civilians since it launched an insurgency in 2014.

Daesh, an enemy of al Qaeda, released a video on Sunday in which it warned Egyptians against taking part in the vote and urged militants to attack security forces and leaders.

In an undated audio recording, the Egyptian-born Zawahiri did not issue any specific threat, and did not mention any election.

"I call on everyone … to work to uproot this apostate, criminal and corrupt regime, and to jihad with weapons, money, word and actions, raids and ambushes, strikes and protests," Zawahiri said in the recording.

Al Qaeda first posted the recording in its Telegram channel on Wednesday. The group has not recently claimed attacks in Egypt, but a group linked to it claimed a deadly assault on police in Egypt's western desert in October last year.

Zawahiri has publicly criticised Daesh for its brutal methods, which have included beheadings, drownings and immolation.

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