- - Tuesday, June 19, 2012

CAIRO — Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak, is claiming to have won Eqypt’s presidential election, countering the Muslim Brotherhood’s claims of victory and setting the stage for a divisive fight for the leadership.

A campaign aide issued Mr. Shafiq’s claim Monday as opposition grew against a constitutional declaration announced by the military Sunday that robbed the next president of many powers and gave the generals who succeeded Mubarak last year legislative powers as well as control over the process of drafting a permanent constitution.

The Brotherhood is already gearing up for a confrontation with the ruling military. It called for mass demonstrations in Cairo and elsewhere Tuesday to protest the military’s declaration, as well as a court ruling last week that dissolved parliament, where the Brotherhood controlled nearly half the seats.

The court ruling has been endorsed by the military, whose leader, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, issued a decree dissolving the legislature.

Also last week, the military-backed government granted military police and intelligence agents the right to arrest civilians for a host of suspected crimes.

The official result of the presidential election vote will be announced Thursday. With each side now insisting it won, an announcement either way by the election commission could now raise protests from the losing side.


2 Gazans found dead after Israeli airstrike

JERUSALEM — Two Palestinian men were killed after Israeli aircraft struck the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, officials from both sides said, as an increase in violence threatened a brittle cease-fire.

The Israeli military spokesman’s office said the strike was launched in response to rocket fire at southern Israel, and that targets were hit. It did not elaborate.

Palestinian health official Adham Abu Salmia said the men could not be immediately identified, so it was not clear whether they were civilians or militants. He said they died in an Israeli military strike, and it appeared he and the military were referring to the same attack.

Israel-Gaza violence has flared in recent days, with four Palestinian militants killed Monday in airstrikes launched in retaliation for rocket fire. Militants fired 10 rockets at Israel over the past two days, the military said. No injuries or damage was reported.

The Gaza strike came a day after two militants infiltrated the Israeli border from Egypt’s neighboring Sinai desert, killing an Israeli civilian before they were killed by Israeli forces. It was unclear whether the infiltration was connected to the Israel-Gaza exchange.


Lebanon releases nine Islamists

BEIRUT — Security officials said nine Islamists who had been detained without trial for five years for suspected links to an extremist group have been released on bail.

The men were arrested in 2007 after three months of clashes in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Authorities said the men had links to the militant Fatah al-Islam.

Seven are Lebanese, one is Syrian and the other is Palestinian. They were released Tuesday.

They are among a group of around 180 people arrested after clashes in 2007 between the army and Fatah al-Islam. The battles killed more than 170 soldiers and dozens of militants and Palestinian civilians.

Many of the detainees are being held without trial. Their relatives have been staging protests demanding that authorities speed up legal procedures.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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