Ex-PM ar­rested

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - AFP—XIN­HUA

Egyp­tian po­lice ar­rest ousted Is­lamist pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi’s 5187 for­mer prime min­is­ter as ten­sions rise af­ter a ma­jor car-bomb at­tack

Egyp­tian po­lice ar­rested ousted Is­lamist pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi’s for­mer prime min­is­ter on Tues­day as ten­sions rose af­ter a ma­jor car-bomb at­tack on a po­lice build­ing killed 15 peo­ple.

The in­te­rior min­istry said exprime min­is­ter Hisham Qandil, who is fac­ing jail af­ter be­ing con­victed of fail­ing to re­spect a court rul­ing while in of­fice, was ar­rested in the desert out­side Cairo with a “smug­gler, at­tempt­ing to es­cape to Su­dan”.

An un­pop­u­lar prime min­is­ter who strug­gled to right a dire econ­omy, Qandil has kept a rel­a­tively low pro­file since the mil­i­tary over­threw Morsi in July.

He rep­re­sented an al­liance of pro-Morsi Is­lamist groups in meet­ings with Euro­pean me­di­a­tors who tried to defuse ten­sions with the mil­i­tary-in­stalled govern­ment.

Those ef­forts failed in Au­gust, with the po­lice launch­ing a crack­down that killed more than 1,000 peo­ple in street clashes.

In April, while still in of­fice, Qandil was sen­tenced to a year in prison for not car­ry­ing out a rul­ing to re­na­tion­al­ize a com­pany that had been pri­va­tized in 1996. An ap­peals court up­held the sen­tence in Septem­ber.

Qandil’s ar­rest fol­lowed an early- morn­ing car bomb­ing out­side the po­lice head­quar­ters in the Nile Delta city of Man­soura that killed 15 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 12 po­lice­men.

Ji­hadis ‘re­spon­si­ble’

An­sar Beit al-Maqdis, a Si­nai-based ji­hadi group, claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity late on Tues­day for the deadly bomb­ing, staterun Ahram on­line re­ported.

In a state­ment, the group said it tar­geted army and po­lice per­son­nel. It added that the at­tack was car­ried out by a per­son who drove a car bomb and that more de­tails of the pow­er­ful ex­plo­sion will be re­vealed.

An­sar Beit al- Maqdis has al­ready claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for sev­eral mil­i­tant at­tacks in the coun­try, in­clud­ing a bomb­ing near an army in­tel­li­gence build­ing in the Suez Canal city of Is­mailia and a failed at­tempt to as­sas­si­nate In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mo­hammed Ibrahim.

The mas­sive ex­plo­sion on Tues­day, which the coun­try’s mil­i­tary-in­stalled au­thor­i­ties had sug­gested was car­ried out by Morsi’s Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, was one of the dead­li­est since the Is­lamist leader’s ouster, which has bit­terly po­lar­ized the coun­try.

The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood con­demned the bomb­ing “in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms”.

An­a­lysts had said the at­tack was likely the work of more rad­i­cal Is­lamists, who have car­ried out a string of sim­i­lar at­tacks in the Si­nai Penin­sula tar­get­ing se­cu­rity forces.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said they sus­pected a sui­cide bomber rammed a car loaded with pow­er­ful ex­plo­sives through bar­ri­ers sur­round­ing the build­ing.

The ex­plo­sion peeled off part of the build­ing’s fa­cade and could be felt up to 20 km away.

Ca­su­al­ties were rushed to a hos­pi­tal, where one wit­ness said the blast had sent him fly­ing through the air.

“I heard a mas­sive ex­plo­sion be­hind me. I flew through glass and wreck­age and then lost con­scious­ness,” he said from his stretcher, his head swathed in ban­dages.

Hours af­ter the bomb­ing, Prime Min­is­ter Hazem Be­blawi la­beled the Broth­er­hood a “ter­ror­ist” group, but did not blame the or­ga­ni­za­tion for the blast.

Shadi Hamid, re­search di­rec­tor at the Brook­ings Doha Cen­ter, said the lat­est at­tack in­di­cated the in­sur­gency was in­ten­si­fy­ing.

“This is a more so­phis­ti­cated at­tack than pre­vi­ous ones. It could be a sign of things to come. ... The in­sur­gency in Si­nai is be­com­ing em­bold­ened and ex­tend­ing at­tacks out­side the Si­nai,” Hamid said.

MO­HAMED ABD EL GHANY / REUTERS

Mourn­ers at a fu­neral surge to­ward a ve­hi­cle car­ry­ing the bod­ies dur­ing the ser­vice for po­lice of­fi­cers and peo­ple killed in a car bomb ex­plo­sion in Egypt’s Nile Delta city of Man­soura on Tues­day. The at­tack killed 15 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 12 po­lice­men, of­fi­cials said.

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