Egypt replaces intelligence chief with his deputy
Egypt has abruptly sacked the nation's powerful intelligence chief for "health reasons," replacing him with his deputy, security authorities said, Press TV reported.
The country's security officials announced Saturday that General Mohammed Farid al-Tohamy, described as a longtime mentor of president and former military chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, was replaced by his deputy Khaled Fawzy, a longtime intelligence officer that also headed the African nation's national security agency.
The sacked intelligence chief was widely viewed as a hardliner in the military-led government's brutal crackdown on Muslim opposition groups as well as secular dissidents.
Al-Tohamy was picked to take the helms of the intelligence agency immediately after al-Sisi, who headed the military at the time, led the army-led coup against the nation's first freely-elected President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 following military-backed protest rallies against his government.
According to local reports, al-Tohamy had returned on December 12 from official visits to the Persian Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, both of which are widely considered as highly repressive regimes actively engaged in suppressing popular dissent in the two states.
Since Morsi's ouster in July 2013, authorities have led a bloody crackdown on his followers, other Muslim groups and the secular opposition.
Despite the contention that Al-Tohamy was removed for health reasons, one official source said a key factor in the decision was a desire to inject "new blood" to deal with a growingly complex security situation in the country.
Thousands of Egyptians have been arrested and hundreds of others killed in violent clashes with police and military forces.
Consequently, many of the country's security forces and troops have come under growing attacks by militant groups, including a bloody attack on Cairo's main security headquarters and two attacks on Egyptian troops in Sinai that killed dozens of soldiers.