Huge IS car bomb hits Cairo se­cu­rity build­ing, wounds 29

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY BRIAN ROHAN

A mas­sive car bomb claimed by Is­lamic State mil­i­tants ripped into a na­tional se­cu­rity build­ing in a residential neigh­bor­hood in Cairo early Thurs­day, wound­ing at least 29 peo­ple and blow­ing the fa­cades off nearby build­ings.

The blast, which went off around 2 a.m., de­mol­ished a wall in front of the gov­ern­ment build­ing, smashed its struc­ture and left gap­ing holes ex­pos­ing its of­fices. Of those hurt, 11 were po­lice and sol­diers. No deaths were re­ported.

Author­i­ties said high-pow­ered ex­plo­sives were used in the blast, which was heard and felt across the city.

Glass from blown-out win­dows lit­tered the sur­round­ing streets in the Shubra el-Kheima neigh­bor­hood, at the north­ern en­trance to the cap­i­tal. Se­cu­rity forces with as­sault ri­fles set up road­blocks to ward off hys­ter­i­cal res­i­dents and on­look­ers. A crater marked the blast’s ap­par­ent po­si­tion, while the en­gine of the car ap­par­ently used in the at­tack landed on other side of the street.

The Is­lamic State group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the car bomb­ing, say­ing on its Al-Bayan ra­dio sta­tion that “sol­diers of the caliphate” had car­ried it out. A state­ment is­sued by their af­fil­i­ate in Egypt and cir­cu­lated by sup­port­ers online said it was to avenge the ex­e­cu­tion of six con­victed mil­i­tants in May.

The men were sen­tenced by a mil­i­tary court in pro­ceed­ings heav­ily crit­i­cized by hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, some of whom pointed out that three of the de­fen­dants were al­ready in de­ten­tion when they al­legedly car­ried out at­tacks.

A sim­i­lar claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity emerged last month fol­low­ing a bomb­ing out­side the Ital­ian Con­sulate in Cairo.

Egypt has seen a surge of as­saults on se­cu­rity forces since the 2013 mil­i­tary over­throw of Is­lamist pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi. Pre­vi­ous large-scale at­tacks have been claimed by an Is­lamic State af­fil­i­ate based in the north­ern Si­nai Penin­sula.

In­side his ru­ined clinic next door to the se­cu­rity build­ing, plas­tic sur­geon Gawad Mah­moud lamented Egypt’s trou­bles since the mil­i­tary ousted Morsi, the coun­try’s first free- ly elected pres­i­dent, amid mas­sive protests against his di­vi­sive year­long rule.

“We were here paint­ing the of­fice, and then it went off. It was like an earth­quake, it blew the doors off and smashed all the win­dows in,” he said. “We are not liv­ing in a nor­mal state here.”

Ac­cess to the area was highly re­stricted, even in the min­utes fol­low­ing the blast, with dozens of po­lice­men, plain­clothes and uni­formed, dis­cour­ag­ing any ap­proach. At the site, press cre­den­tials of the few for­eign jour­nal­ists who man­aged to ar­rive were checked re­peat­edly by author­i­ties.

AFP

An Egyp­tian po­lice­man runs past some of the re­mains of a car which ex­ploded in front of a na­tional se­cu­rity build­ing in north­ern Cairo’s dis­trict of Shubra, Thurs­day, Aug. 20.

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