Egypt blames Muslim Brotherhood for attack on army bus in Cairo
CAIRO // Masked gunmen opened fire on an army bus in Cairo on Thursday, killing one soldier and wounding three in a rare attack on troops in the Egyptian capital.
The bus, which belongs to the army’s military police, was driving through the capital’s Amiriyah district when it was targeted, security officials said.
The armed forces spokesman, Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali, blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the early morning attack.
The Brotherhood was blacklisted as a terrorist group in Egypt after a rise in attacks on authorities following the military’s removal of the Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, who is a Brotherhood member.
Last week, Saudi Arabia also added the group to its list of terrorist organisations.
Witnesses said Thursday’s attack was carried out by four gunmen on two motorbikes, who sprayed the bus with gunfire as they approached it from opposite directions.
In the eight months since Mr Morsi’s removal after just one year in office, militants have targeted the army and police forces in Cairo and elsewhere in the country, often using motorbikes or suicide bombers.
Attacks in Cairo have mostly targeted policemen.
The most high-profile assaults so far include an attempted assassination on the Egyptian interior minister in September in Cairo and an attack on the Egyptian capital’s police headquarters in January, which killed at least five people and caused extensive damage to the nearby Islamic Museum.
The interior minister, Mohammed Ibrahim, escaped unharmed but one bystander was killed and more than 20 people were wounded in the bombing.
Most of the deadly bombings have been claimed by an Al Qaeda-inspired group called Ansar Beit Al Maqdis, or Champions of Jerusalem.
The militants are also waging a full-fledged insurgency in the northern part of the strategic Sinai Peninsula, a vast desert area bordering the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and Israel.
Egypt’s military-backed interim government has accused the Brotherhood – which rose to power following the ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak – of orchestrating much of the violence.
The Brotherhood denies the charges, insisting it is pursuing peaceful means to reinstate Mr Morsi, who is on trial for four separate cases including murder and espionage.
In a separate development on Thursday, the former chief of staff of the Egyptian armed forces, General Sami Anan, declared that he would not run for president, as the public had anticipated.
The announcement leaves a leftist politician as the only serious candidate to run against the nation’s military chief, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah El Sisi, in the vote, expected in April.
The vote is widely expected to be a landslide win by Field Marshal El Sisi, who has yet to formally announce whether he will run.
Many Egyptians consider the field marshal to be the only person who can bring stability to the country.
* Associated Press
Updated: March 14, 2014 04:00 AM