Car bomb strikes military compound in Egypt
The Associated Press | October 20,2013
Security officials and an explosives expert examine the site of a car bombing Saturday in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, Egypt.
EL-ARISH, Egypt — A car bomb exploded Saturday near an Egyptian military intelligence compound in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, wounding six soldiers, security officials said, as militants appear to be expanding the scope of their attacks.
The blast in Ismailia came as some returned to work after the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Security officials said part of the compound’s wall collapsed and a nearby commercial building, belonging to the Suez Canal Authority, was damaged. Soldiers sealed off the area as authorities began an investigation into the blast.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to brief journalists.
Ismailia borders the restive Sinai Peninsula, where the military is on the offensive against insurgents there.
In recent weeks, militants have taken their fight against the security forces beyond northern Sinai, carrying out bombings in the Suez Canal area and even in the Egyptian capital.
An attempt to assassinate the interior minister with a car bomb last month in Cairo has raised fears of an escalating Islamic militant campaign of revenge over the July 3 military coup that ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-led government.
Ibrahim el-Said, a senior member of the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice party, denounced the violence. He said his coalition doesn’t use violent tactics.
El-Said accused the current authorities of “fabricating” some of the attacks on security installations to link the opposition to terrorism and deepen the public’s sense of insecurity and resentment toward the Brotherhood.
“We don’t deny there are some who have adopted violence against the state,” he said. “We reject violence. ... But I am always skeptical of the information coming from the other side.”
Security, already volatile in Egypt since 2011, has worsened since the July coup. Hundreds of Morsi supporters have held near-daily rallies, demanding his reinstatement and an end to crackdown on the Brotherhood. Nearly 2,000 leading members of the group have been arrested since the coup, and hundreds are expected to go on trial.
On Saturday, at least 200 students and Morsi supporters marched inside at Cairo’s Al-Azhar university, Sunni Islam’s main seat of learning, as classes resumed.
In an attempt to stop unrest, the interim government proposed a new law that would restrict the right to protest, ban strikes and require organizers to seek a police permit before holding any gathering — something authorities can deny if they see it threatening public order or delaying traffic.
The proposed law also puts heavy fines on violators, in addition to possible jail time.
The draft law, which also bans protests at places of worship where Morsi supporters often gather, has yet to be endorsed by interim President Adly Mansour. However, it has caused an uproar among a wide-range of political activists and youth groups, who say the law is an attempt to crush any form of dissent. The law also has caused disagreements within the interim government.
Amnesty International issued a statement asking Mansour not to ratify the law.
“The proposed law would give security forces a free rein to use excessive and lethal force against demonstrators ... paving the way for further bloodshed in Egypt,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Hundreds of people have been killed in protests that have turned violent since Morsi’s ouster.
Authorities imposed emergency laws for a three-month period after the coup, granting authorities sweeping powers. They also have instituted a nighttime curfew in most cities.