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Video: Egyptian police 'burn down homes of opposition detainees'

Watch now: The fire in this house was started by police officers, eyewitnesses reported [Facebook]

Date of publication: 22 March, 2016

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Egyptian police have set fire to the homes of three alleged members of the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood, almost killing a trapped child, as Washington expresses "deep concern" over Egypt.
Egyptian police have set fire to the homes of anti-government activists in a village near the northern port city of Domyat, just days after the United States condemned the country's human rights record, eyewitnesses have told The New Arab.

Police raided the village of al-Basarta early on Monday and razed three homes belonging to activists detained for participating in anti-government protests.

"Security forces set fire to the house of Mohammad Balboula and almost killed a young girl who was stuck inside had she not been miraculously saved - thanks to the grace of God," a village resident told The New Arab's Egypt correspondent.

"They also set the homes of two other detainees on fire," he added.

Balboula's wife has been in prison since May last year. He posted images on social media of the aftermath of the blaze.

"You have already killed our loved ones. What will burning down our homes do to us?" he said.

Basarta is a known stronghold of supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood and has witnessed repeated violence at the hands of security forces.

In May last year, police killed six protesters who were demanding the release of a dozen young women from the village, arrested for taking part in anti-government protests.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that he was "deeply concerned" by the deterioration of human rights in Egypt.

"This decision comes against a wider backdrop of arrests and intimidation of political opposition, journalists, civil society activists and cultural figures," Kerry said.

Domyat's security chief has denied any police wrongdoing, telling local media that police were in the village looking for fugitive "riot starters" and that footage widely shared online was Brotherhood propaganda.

Former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi, a member of the now-blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood movement, was ousted by the military in 2013.

Former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who deposed Morsi, has since launched a blistering crackdown on Islamist groups that has left hundreds of people dead and thousands jailed.

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