Three Muslim Brotherhood leaders held

EGYPTIAN police and Muslim Brotherhood group say three top leaders, including the organisation's number two, and 10 provincial senior members have been arrested in a dawn sweep in Cairo and five other provinces.

Police arrested yesterday the newly elected deputy leader, Mahmoud Ezzat, and two other members of the top-level Guidance Council, Essam el-Erian and Abdul-Rahman el-Bir.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were arrested for engaging in banned political activity.

The Brotherhood was banned in 1954 but is somewhat tolerated by the state. Its candidates are allowed to run for parliament as independents and in 2005 won 20percent of the seats, making them Egypt's largest opposition bloc. - Sapa-AP