CAIRO — President Hosni Mubarak today fired the head of the nation's police forces after the ironfisted and outspoken minister was quoted as saying Muslim extremists should be killed.
Interior Minister Zaki Badr, known for his harsh and sustained crackdowns on the extremists, lost his job less than a month after surviving an apparent bombing assassination attempt blamed on members of the extremist groups.
Badr's sharp tongue and harsh security operations had drawn criticism from the militants and from the nation's opposition political parties.
A truck bomb went off in suburban Cairo on Dec. 16, seconds before Badr's motorcade arrived at his sports club. A medical student from Assiut University was arrested at the site, and about 300 people were rounded up later.
Almost 500 had been detained in Assiut the week before the explosion after a provincewide security sweep typical of Badr's methods.
At one point last year, 6,000 alleged Muslim militants were held in prison after being arrested during raids on areas considered militant strongholds. Many militant leaders used their publications to attack him.
Before today, Mubarak had ignored such criticism and retained Badr, a practicing Muslim who was named to the post in 1986.