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Africa

Egyptian troops killed in Sinai suicide attack

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-11-20

Eleven Egyptian troops were killed and 34 others were injured on Wednesday after a suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into an army convoy in the Sinai peninsula, security officials said.

A car bomb in Egypt's restive Sinai killed 11 soldiers and another blast struck police in Cairo Wednesday, amid a wave of unrest following Islamist president Mohamed Morsi's July ouster.

The troops were killed when an explosives-laden car blew up next to an army bus in North Sinai's provincial capital El-Arish, a security official said. The army confirmed the attack, saying nine conscripts and two non-commissioned officers died.

In a separate attack, assailants hurled an explosive device at a checkpoint in northern Cairo, wounding four policemen including a major struck by shrapnel in his face and back, security sources said.

The Sinai bombing, which also wounded 34 soldiers, was the deadliest in the region bordering Gaza and Israel since an August 19 ambush by gunmen on a convoy of security forces that killed 25 policemen in the North Sinai town of Rafah.

On September 5, a car bomb had targeted interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in Cairo.

That attack was claimed by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, an Al-Qaeda-inspired group based in the Sinai which on Tuesday said it was also responsible for Sunday's assassination of police Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Mabruk, who was involved in an ongoing crackdown on Islamists.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis said its attack on Mabruk was the first in a "series of operations".

A video uploaded on YouTube also showed the group claiming an October 10 attack south of El-Arish which killed four soldiers and a policeman.

Interim president Adly Mansour denounced the latest Sinai bombing as "a terrorist attack", while the military said it was chasing the perpetrators who fled towards the town of Sheikh Zuwayed.

Egypt has been plagued by unrest since the army stepped in to remove Morsi from power on July 3 amid massive protests against the turbulent one-year rule of the country's first freely elected president.

Militants have stepped up a campaign against security forces in the mountainous and underdeveloped Sinai since Morsi's ouster, killing dozens of troops and police in near-daily attacks.

Egypt has poured troops and armour into the restive peninsula to combat growing militancy while it has waged a crackdown on moderate Islamists elsewhere.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence decades ago and says it is committed to peacefully opposing the coup that toppled him, but most of its top leaders have been jailed, including Morsi himself, raising concerns that breakaway factions could turn to violence.

Some 2,000 Islamists have been arrested nationwide and more than 1,000 people have been killed since mid-August, when security forces brutally dispersed large pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo, killing hundreds.

'The revolution is still not over'

Despite the crackdown, Morsi's supporters have regularly staged protests in Cairo and other cities against the military-installed government, often igniting street clashes with the security forces and his opponents.

However, the Islamists did not participate in demonstrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square that turned violent late Tuesday, when two people were killed and 26 wounded as riot police stormed the central roundabout.

Police backed by armoured vehicles fired tear gas and birdshot to scatter protesters who had gathered to mark the anniversary of deadly November 2011 demonstrations.

Those protests had been against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which ruled Egypt between the overthrow of long-ruling strongman Hosni Mubarak and Morsi's election in 2012.

Egypt is bitterly split between Morsi's supporters and those who backed the military overthrow, but Tuesday's protesters accused both sides of betraying the goals of the 2011 revolt that ousted Mubarak.

In November 2011, at least 43 protesters were killed in several days of clashes with police in Mohamed Mahmud Street just off Tahrir Square.

Those clashes were the first serious revolt faced by the military junta that had taken charge after Mubarak's resignation in February 2011.

Some of the protesters on Tuesday night had been enraged by a monument built in the square.

They accused the government and police of revising the history of the Mohamed Mahmud clashes amid a wave of pro-military nationalism following Morsi's overthrow.

Mahmoud Hisham, a 21-year-old student, said: "The revolution is still not over. In three years, we've had three systems and three traitors -- Mubarak, the military and the Brotherhood."

(AFP)

Date created : 2013-11-20

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