Egyptian Army arrests dozens in storming of Islamist-held town

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Egyptian army troops stormed on Monday a town held for over a month by hardline Islamists arresting dozens accused of burning churches and terrorizing residents, officials said.

Authorities entered the town of Delga in the Minya province, firing tear gas and searching homes for suspects, a security official told Agence France Press.

Some 56 people had been arrested and several weapons seized by Monday afternoon, the official added.

All 32 entrances to the village were shut and a daytime curfew was imposed.

Authorities recaptured Delga, a remote town of 120,000 people, after it had been controlled for 31 days by loyalists of ousted Islamist president Mohammad Mursi, according to the official MENA news agency.

Since the siege of the village began, three churches were torched, dozens of Christian homes burned and two Copts killed, according to Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

At least 100 families also fled the town fearing for their lives, Ibrahim said on his Twitter account in statements carried by AFP.

The raid on the town comes amid a crackdown on Islamists following the military's ouster of president Mursi on July 3, which plunged the country deeper into turmoil.

In mid-August police and soldiers cleared two pro-Mursi protest camps in Cairo which followed with violent clashes leaving hundreds killed and polarizing the country.

The Egyptian interim government backed by the army has put a transition plan in place stipulating that parliamentary elections and presidential elections should take place by mid-2014.

(With AFP)