Sui­cide car bomber hits bus car­ry­ing off-duty sol­diers

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY HAMZA HENDAWI

CAIRO | A sui­cide bomber rammed his ex­plo­sive-laden car into one of two buses car­ry­ing off-duty sol­diers in Egypt’s tur­bu­lent re­gion of north­ern Si­nai on Wed­nes­day, killing 11 and wound­ing 37, se­cu­rity and mil­i­tary of­fi­cials said.

They said the sui­cide bomber struck when the two buses trav­eled on the road be­tween the bor­der town of Rafah and the coastal city of el-Ar­ish. The ex­plo­sion dam­aged both buses.

The sol­diers are with the 2nd Field Army, which is do­ing most of the fight­ing against Is­lamic mil­i­tants wag­ing an in­sur­gency against se­cu­rity forces in Si­nai. The buses were on their way to Cairo.

Col. Mo­hammed Ahmed Ali, a mil­i­tary spokesman, said the wounded were be­ing treated in mil­i­tary hos­pi­tals.

“The pre­cious blood of our sons strength­ens our re­solve to cleanse Egypt and shield its sons from vi­o­lence and treach­er­ous ter­ror­ism,” Col. Ali wrote on his Face­book page.

The north­ern Si­nai re­gion, which bor­ders the Gaza Strip and Is­rael, has been rest­less for years, but at­tacks have grown more fre­quent and dead­lier since the July ouster of Is­lamist Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi.

There was no im­me­di­ate claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity for Wed­nes­day’s at­tack, but sui­cide car bomb­ings are a sig­na­ture method by mil­i­tant groups linked to or in­spired by al Qaeda.

North­ern Si­nai’s vi­o­lence oc­ca­sion­ally has spilled over into cities in the south­ern part of the penin­sula as well as main­land Egypt, tar­get­ing po­lice­men, sol­diers and politi­cians.

In Septem­ber, the in­te­rior min­is­ter, who is in charge of the po­lice, sur­vived an as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt by a sui­cide car bomb. Ear­lier this week, a se­nior se­cu­rity of­fi­cer who mon­i­tors Is­lamist groups, in­clud­ing Mr. Morsi’s Mus­lim Brother­hood, was shot dead as he drove in Cairo’s east­ern Nasr City dis­trict.

Nasr City is a Brother­hood strong­hold and home to sev­eral mil­i­tary bar­racks.

In a video clip posted Tues­day on the In­ter­net, a mil­i­tant group, An­sar Jerusalem, claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for this week’s slay­ing of the se­cu­rity of­fi­cer, po­lice Lt. Col. Mo­hammed Mabrouk. An­sar Jerusalem said the killing was in re­tal­i­a­tion for the re­cent ar­rest of fe­male Morsi sup­port­ers.

The group pre­vi­ously had claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tempt on the in­te­rior min­is­ter’s life and an at­tack on mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence com­pounds in the Suez Canal city of Is­mailia and the south­ern Si­nai city of Tor.

Mean­while, clashes late Tues­day be­tween rev­o­lu­tion­ary youths op­posed to mil­i­tary rule and po­lice killed two peo­ple, said Ahmed el-An­sari, head of Egypt’s emer­gency ser­vices.

The vi­o­lence in Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square fol­lowed day­long protests mark­ing the sec­ond an­niver­sary of clashes be­tween pro­test­ers and po­lice on an ad­ja­cent street. A joint po­lice and army con­tin­gent cleared the square of pro­test­ers late Tues­day.

On Wed­nes­day at dawn, as­sailants threw a grenade at a po­lice check­point in a north­ern Cairo sub­urb, in­jur­ing four po­lice­men, se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said. The as­sailants fled the scene, the of­fi­cials said.

Au­thor­i­ties have since Mr. Morsi’s ouster waged a crack­down against the Brother­hood, ar­rest­ing some 2,000 top and mid­dle-level mem­bers and sev­eral thou­sand fol­low­ers.

Mr. Morsi, along with the group’s top lead­ers, are in de­ten­tion and face tri­als on charges that vary from mur­der and in­cit­ing mur­der to con­spir­ing with for­eign pow­ers and cor­rup­tion.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this im­age re­leased by the Egyp­tian Mil­i­tary Spokesman of the Armed Forces on Face­book, Egyp­tian mil­i­tary sol­diers in­spect the scene near a de­stroyed bus on Wed­nes­day af­ter a sui­cide at­tacker crashed his ex­plo­sive-laden car into it.

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