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Egyptian journalist forcibly disappeared while covering Luxor unrest

Basma Mostafa was missing for 24 hours before she appeared in front of the State Security Prosecution in Cairo
Basma Mostafa was sent to Luxor to cover the unrest gripping the city following growing tensions between residents and security forces (Supplied)

Concerns have been mounting over the whereabouts of Egyptian journalist Basma Mostafa, who disappeared on Saturday morning while covering unrest in the city of Luxor. 

Mostafa was on assignment for independent news website Al-Manassa, which said it had been unable to reach her for more than 24 hours. 

Manassa said the last call its team had with Mostafa was at 11:15am on Saturday, when she said a "policeman had stopped her in Luxor city, checked her ID and then allowed her to continue on her way but kept following her".

Clashes in Egypt's Luxor after police kill man for defending his father
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Mostafa's lawyer Karim Abdelradi later confirmed to independent news outlet Mada Masr that she appeared in front of the State Security Prosecution in Cairo on Sunday morning.

Abdelradi said that Mostafa disappeared near the Luxor train station and that she was able to receive phone calls and messages but did not pick up any calls. 

Mostafa was sent to Luxor to cover growing unrest in the area after it was besieged by local security forces. 

A seasoned journalist, Mostafa has covered several high-profile stories for Al-Manassa over the past two months. 

Stories covered by Mostafa include the aftermath of the death of 26-year-old Islam al-Australy in police custody. She also covered the public prosecution's backlash against the victim and witnesses to the 2014 Fairmont hotel gang rape case. Mostafa revealed how at least two of the six arrested were subjected to forced anal and vaginal examinations. 

Forcible disappearances are common in Egypt, with a number of activists, journalists or individuals seen as critical of the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi having gone missing over the years, only to later appear in court.

Clashes intensify in Luxor

Clashes between residents and security forces intensified in the upper Nile region following the killing of resident Awais al-Rawi, who was shot dead by a police officer in front of his home on Wednesday. 

Awad al-Rawi, one of Awais' cousins, told MEE that, on the night in question, security forces stormed into the family house in al-Awamiya, some 30 minutes from the ancient Luxor Temple, to arrest a family member suspected of having taken part in small-scale nationwide protests last week.

"Once they did not find the wanted person, they decided to arrest Awais' younger brother. When their father intervened, the officer slapped him across the face in front of everybody," said Awad, who witnessed the incident firsthand.

"We are Upper Nile Egyptians. We are proud people and our elders have to be respected. Awais, God bless his soul, could not see his father humiliated," he said, adding that his cousin wanted to confront the officer, which led to an argument.

The officer was suspended from work and will be interrogated, a source in the prosecution office told MEE on condition of anonymity this week.

The source anticipated that the investigation was launched in a move to "contain the anger of the locals".

Awais al-Rawi's death has sparked anger as the latest victim of police violence in Egypt, where human rights organisations have repeatedly reported on the systematic torture and ill treatment of detainees and civilians.

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