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Pro-Muslim Brotherhood supporters shove furniture against the doors to stop anyone from breaking into the mosque. Hussein Tallal/AP/PA

Irish women reportedly arrested after Cairo mosque stand-off

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been in contact with Egyptian authorities to try to secure their safety.

Updated 8.31pm

TWO IRISH WOMEN who were among hundreds of people trapped in a mosque in Cairo that had been surrounded by Egyptian security forces are reported to have been arrested.

Omaima Halawa (21) and her sister Fatima (23) were taken into custody by the the Egyptian security forces when they left the Al-Fath mosque where they had been taking refuge from the violence on the city’s streets, according to RTE.

The two reportedly managed to borrow a mobile phone to call relatives in Dublin to say they had been arrested.

The whereabouts of their two siblings – 27-year-old Somaia and 17-year-old Ibrihim – are unclear.

Earlier, Omaima and her siblings – the children of the Imam of the Clonskeagh mosque in Dublin, Ireland’s largest mosque – told RTÉ that they took shelter in the mosque to avoid live bullets outside. The 21-year-old said they were afraid to leave the mosque for fear of being attacked.

“There are kids who are hungry, we haven’t had anything to eat since yesterday, there’s no food, the water is rare and it’s a very critical condition,” she said.

The four had been on holiday in the Egyptian capital when the current wave of violence began.

Halawa added that she did not feel that she could trust the security forces and wanted a representative from the Irish embassy to bring them out of the mosque safely.

“The girls who left the mosque thinking they’d be safe were taken and attacked,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs told that it has been in touch with the family in Dublin and the Irish Embassy has made contact with the group in the mosque.

“We’ve also been in contact with the Egyptian authorities in relation to securing their safety,” they said.

Egyptian police cleared Islamist protesters from the mosque on Saturday after a standoff that included exchanges of fire, as the death toll from four days of violence surpassed 750.

The clashes came as the government said 173 people had been killed in the past 24 hours alone, bring the country’s death toll to more than 750 since Wednesday, when police cleared two camps of Morsi loyalists in the capital.

Originally published 12.13pm

- Additional reporting from AFP.

Related: Photos: More than 60 killed in violent clashes on Egypt’s ‘Friday of anger’>

Read: Irish citizens told to avoid all non-essential travel to Egypt as violence escalates >

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