Another blast at Egyptian army building

December 30, 2013 - 5:01:24 am

Egyptian soldiers stand next to the destroyed headquarters of the military intelligence for the eastern Sharqiya region in the town of Anshas, East of Cairo, yesterday.

CAIRO: A bomb exploded outside an Egyptian army building north of Cairo yesterday, wounding four soldiers, the army said, in the second bomb attack on security forces in the Nile Delta in less than a week. The bomb partly destroyed the back wall of the military intelligence building in the village of Anshas, 100km north of the capital.

The army described the bombing as a terrorist attack. Its statement referred to “groups of darkness” and did not name the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group it declared a terrorist organisation last week. That decision was a response to a suicide bomb attack on Tuesday on a police compound in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, north of the site of yesterday’s explosion.

The army-backed government has used the new classification to detain hundreds of the movement’s supporters and thousands more are already in jail. Some of those detained in recent days are students, who have continued daily protests in spite of the increased penalties for loyalty to the Brotherhood. The government had accused the Brotherhood of carrying out last week’s suicide bombing, which killed 16 people and for which a radical Sinai-based group called Ansar Bayt Al Maqdis claimed responsibility.

In Anshas, some residents were quick to blame the Brotherhood for yesterday’s attack: “The Brotherhood want to scare people so they don’t come out for the referendum,” said Ahmed Salah, wearing a dusty tracksuit and standing near the damaged building. The next step in the government’s political transition plan is a mid-January referendum on a new constitution, which it has said the violence will not derail.

But the two latest explosions point to the widening reach of militant attacks that have become commonplace since the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July.

Ansar Bayt Al Maqdis has claimed other major attacks since Mursi’s downfall, including a failed attempt to assassinate the interior minister in September.

Around 350 police and soldiers have been killed in bombings and shootings since Mursi was deposed, most of them in the Sinai Peninsula, where Islamist radicals expanded into a security vacuum left by the Hosni Mubarak’s downfall in early 2011.

Security forces killed hundreds of Mursi’s supporters in the months after his removal and have arrested thousands more. Three security sources said yesterday’s explosion came from a bomb near the building, but did not specify where it was planted. State-run Nile News TV station said it was a car bomb.

Five people were wounded by a bomb that went off near a bus in Cairo on Thursday. That bomb appeared to be the first targeting civilians, though there was no claim of responsibility saying what had been targeted. The authorities say they have defused several other bombs in recent days, including one in a bag left outside a university building in the Nile Delta city of Damietta on Sunday.

Already high political tensions have escalated since last week’s suicide attack.

Some analysts say Egypt faces the risk of a protracted spell of Islamist attacks, as well as civil strife fuelled by friction between supporters and opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood: street clashes have killed seven people in the past three days.

Student protesters battled police for a third day at Al-Azhar University, where the Brotherhood has rallied support in recent months, putting the prestigious institution at the heart of its struggle to keep its cause alive.

Students allied to the Brotherhood say they are boycotting end-of-term exams to protest the killing of classmates by security forces. Security sources said 35 students were treated for the effects of tear gas fired by police during protests at Al-Azhar’s campus in the Delta city of Zagazig. Fifteen were hospitalised.



Poll within 6 months after constitution approval: President

CAIRO: Egypt’s interim president said yesterday that the government is committed to holding parliamentary and presidential elections within six months of approval of the new constitution, to be voted on next month.

The timetable means Egypt would have an elected government by next summer to replace that installed by the army after it ousted elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July.

Adly Mansour also said that it would not be unconstitutional for presidential elections to be held before parliamentary elections.

The initial plan unveiled in July required parliamentary elections to be held first, but the constitution to be voted on in a referendum on Jan. 14 and 15 would allow presidential elections first.reuters

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