Five wounded in Cairo bomb attack: security
CAIRO // A bomb exploded in a busy intersection near schools in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Thursday, hitting a bus and wounding five people in an attack that raised concerns that a wave of violence blamed on Islamic militants that has targeted security forces and military for months is increasingly turning to hit civilians.
The blast came a day after the government declared its top political nemesis, the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organisation, accusing it of being behind the violence. The declaration steps up the crackdown on the group since the military removed the president, Mohammed Morsi, in July. On Thursday, the Interior Ministry spokesman warned that leading a Brotherhood protest was now punishable by life in prison under antiterrorism laws.
The Brotherhood has denied the claim, saying the government is trying to scapegoat it, and called for increased protests.
Since Mr Morsi’s July 4 removal and the subsequent crackdown on his Brotherhood and other supporters, a nascent insurgency has accelerated.
Suicide bombings, ambushes and other attacks have mainly targeted security forces and troops in the Sinai Peninsula, but the attacks have also spread to Cairo and other parts of the country.
Thursday’s was only the second bombing seemingly aimed at solely civilian targets, after a similar bomb in the same area last week.
The deadliest bombing yet came on Tuesday, when a suicide car bomber hit a security headquarters in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, killing 16 people, almost all policemen.
With the declaration on Wednesday, the government claimed the Brotherhood was ultimately behind the campaign of violence — and even violence dating back for years. But it has offered no public evidence.
In Thursday’s attack, a homemade bomb planted in a main intersection went off at 9am as a public bus passed in the eastern Cairo district of Nasr City, the Interior Ministry said.
Authorities then found and defused at least one more remote-control bomb attached to an advertisement billboard, apparently intended to hit security forces who responded to the first, state TV reported.
The explosion shattered windows on the bus, and flying glass injured five people, one of them seriously, the ministry said.
The Ministry spokesman, Abdel Fatah Osman, told state TV said that the bomb was planted near a school complex “to terrorise people and cause chaos.” The bomb appeared to be cause panic, not to cause casualties, since it was designed to mainly produce a large noise, the ministry’s top explosives expert Gen. Alaa Abdel Zaher said.
The site is also near student dormitories of the Al Azhar University, which has been the scene of near daily protests by Brotherhood students against Egypt’s military-backed interim government. The protests have repeatedly turned into clashes with security forces.
In the first implementation of the government’s categorisation of the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation on Wednesday, its daily newspaper, Freedom and Justice, was suspended after security forces confiscated Thursday’s edition at the print shop.
At least 54 members of the group were arrested in six provinces in connection to attacks on police stations, inciting riots and violence, the Interior Ministry said.
* Associated Press
Updated: December 26, 2013 04:00 AM