Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blast at Egyptian Army Building in Nile Delta Wounds Four Soldiers

Blast at Egyptian army building in Nile Delta wounds four soldiers

Second bomb attack on security forces in less than a week.

Dec. 29, 2013 | 7:26 PM

A bomb exploded outside an Egyptian army building north of Cairo on Sunday, wounding four soldiers, the army said, in the second bomb attack on security forces in the Nile Delta in less than a week.

The bomb partly destroyed the back wall of the military intelligence building in the village of Anshas, 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of the capital.

The army described the bombing as a terrorist attack. Its statement referred to "groups of darkness" and did not name the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group it declared a terrorist organization last week.

That decision was a response to a suicide bomb attack on Tuesday on a police compound in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, north of the site of Sunday's explosion.

The army-backed government has used the new classification to detain hundreds of the movement's supporters and thousands more are already in jail.

Some of those detained in recent days are students, who have continued daily protests in spite of the increased penalties for loyalty to the Brotherhood.

The government had accused the Brotherhood of carrying out last week's suicide bombing, which killed 16 people and for which a radical Sinai-based group called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility.

In Anshas, some residents were quick to blame the Brotherhood for Sunday's attack: "The Brotherhood want to scare people so they don't come out for the referendum," said Ahmed Salah, wearing a dusty tracksuit and standing near the damaged building.

The next step in the government's political transition plan is a mid-January referendum on a new constitution, which it has said the violence will not derail.

But the two latest explosions point to the widening reach of militant attacks that have become commonplace since the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has claimed other major attacks since Morsi's downfall, including a failed attempt to assassinate the interior minister in September.

Around 350 police and soldiers have been killed in bombings and shootings since Morsi was deposed, most of them in the Sinai Peninsula, where Islamist radicals expanded into a security vacuum left by the Hosni Mubarak's downfall in early 2011.

Security forces killed hundreds of Morsi's supporters in the months after his removal and have arrested thousands more.

Three security sources said Sunday's explosion came from a bomb near the building, but did not specify where it was planted. State-run Nile News TV station said it was a car bomb.

Five people were wounded by a bomb that went off near a bus in Cairo on Thursday. That bomb appeared to be the first targeting civilians, though there was no claim of responsibility saying what had been targeted.

The authorities say they have defused several other bombs in recent days, including one in a bag left outside a university building in the Nile Delta city of Damietta on Sunday.

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