Egypt says attack in Sinai was suicide bomber

AP News
Posted: Oct 07, 2013 12:24 PM
Egypt says attack in Sinai was suicide bomber

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's Interior Minister says Monday's attack on a security headquarters in the southern Sinai Peninsula was the work of a suicide bomber.

Mohammed Ibrahim told The Associated Press that another attack on the country's main satellite telecommunications center in the capital appeared to be in retaliation for the killing of more than 50 supporters of the former president in clashes with security forces a day earlier.

One satellite in the center was slightly damaged by a projectile fired from a distance. Communication was not impacted.

The suicide bombing in Sinai's el-Tor town, close to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killed three policemen.

Ibrahim also said Islamist militants aim to "distract" and cause instability. He said: "We are at war with them, and they are in their last gasp."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A panel of Egyptian judges has recommended the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, a move that signals a widening crackdown on the group.

The judges' recommendation Monday said the party represents an outlawed group. The recommendations will be delivered to a Cairo court reviewing a case demanding the party's dissolution on Oct. 19.

The Brotherhood's party was registered in 2011, months after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak — the first time the 85-year old organization formed a political party. It went on to win a majority in the first post-Mubarak parliament, and its leader, Mohammed Morsi, later won office as Egypt's first democratically elected leader.

Morsi was ousted in a popularly backed military coup in July. Authorities have since arrested Brotherhood leaders and cracked down on its protests.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A drive-by shooting killed six Egyptian soldiers east of Cairo on Monday, shortly after a massive car bombing hit the security headquarters in a town near the tourist resorts of southern Sinai, killing three policemen and wounding dozens.

Also Monday, at least two rocket propelled grenades slammed into a compound housing the country's main satellite earth station in a southern Cairo suburb, security officials said.

The attacks came a day after dozens were killed when holiday celebrations marking the start of the 1973 Mideast war turned into deadly clashes across Egypt, though it was not immediately clear if Monday's violence was related.

A radical Muslim Salafi group had threatened in a statement last Friday that it would kill anyone who collaborated with the military's ongoing offensive against militants in northern Sinai, but neither the group — nor any other radical factions — claimed responsibility for any of the attacks on Monday.

The dawn attack on the earth station in the leafy suburb of Maadi in Cairo caused only minor damage to one of the giant satellite dishes in the complex. But its significance was far wider, in part because it struck at the heart of the nation's telecommunications center, making it the most serious attack in the capital since last month's assassination attempt against the country's interior minister outside his home in eastern Cairo.

A senior security official at the site said the attack did not disrupt communications, but acknowledged its "brazen" nature.

"We are expecting worse," predicted the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

In the attack east of Cairo, the six soldiers, including a lieutenant, were on patrol in a pickup truck near the Suez Canal city of Ismailia when masked gunmen in another vehicle opened fire, killing all of them, said security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The southern Sinai explosion at the security headquarter in the town of el-Tor killed at least three policemen and wounded 55, signaling what could be the spread of attacks by Islamic militants, already active in northern Sinai.

Near-daily attacks against security forces and soldiers in the volatile northern Sinai Peninsula have increasingly resembled a full-fledged insurgency, especially in the three months since the ouster of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

But the region of southern Sinai, which includes the popular diving resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, has been mostly quiet since a series of deadly attacks in 2005 and 2006.

The four-story building of the security headquarters sustained serious damage and the officials said the blast was caused by a car bomb detonated by remote control. Among the wounded was a top police commander.

Monday's attacks come a day after at least 51 people were killed in clashes across Egypt between security forces, and civilians on one side, and Morsi's supporters on the other side. At least 40 of those killed were in Cairo, where some neighborhoods saw hours of pitched street battles between police and protesters. The fighting left streets looking like combat zones, with fires burning, black smoke rising and the air thick with tear gas. Most of those killed were Morsi's supporters.

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Sunday's death toll and Monday's attacks constituted the latest chapter in the turmoil roiling Egypt since the ouster in February 2011 of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The violence is certain to set back efforts by the interim, military-backed government to revive the economy, especially the vital tourism sector, and bring order to the streets of Cairo, where crime and lawlessness have been rife.

Morsi's supporters vowed in a statement Monday to continue their protests, saying their movement will go on, "fuelled by the precious blood and souls of the noble martyrs." They called for new rallies on Tuesday and Friday.

Morsi was Egypt's first civilian and first freely elected president, succeeding four since the early 1950s who hailed from a military background. But after a year in office, Morsi was faced by massive protests demanding his ouster, accusing his Muslim Brotherhood of taking over power — and on July 3, military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi removed him.

The military is now back as the real source of power in Egypt, and state and independent media have been depicting it as the country's savior — with growing calls for el-Sissi to run in the presidential election due early next year.

The government has since the popularly backed coup detained at least 2,000 Brotherhood members, including most of the group's leaders. It says the detainees would face trial on charges that range from murder and inciting violence to abuse of power and conspiring with foreign powers.

But Islamic radicals, at least in Sinai, are determined to exact revenge.

"To all who are dealing with the army forces, forwarding information to them or spying for their account ... we tell them: 'You are taking part in a war against Islam and Muslims, and you are fighting God and his Prophet'," said the Salafiyah Jihadiya group in its statement, posted on militant Web sites.