Revenge attacks rock Egyptian security forces

Attacks on Egyptian security installations have spiked since the military takeover in July. Today's attacks are likely retaliation for police violence at antimilitary protests yesterday.

AP
Smoke rises from a security headquarters building in the southern Sinai town of El-Tor, Egypt, after a car bombing there on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013.

Egypt was rocked by triple terrorist attacks on Monday in what appeared to be coordinated retaliation against police violence that left 53 people dead the day before.

A dawn drive-by shooting in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia killed six soldiers on their morning patrol. Shortly afterward, a car bomb exploded outside South Sinai’s security directorate, killing two and injuring 48.

In Cairo, suspected militants damaged a satellite dish, part of the country's main television transmission system, in the upscale Cairo suburb of Maadi. It was the most serious attack on the capital since last month's assassination attempt against the interior minister outside his home.

The short time frame of the attacks points to greater coordination than previously seen in the growing domestic insurgency that has plagued Egypt since Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in a July 3 military takeover. Mr. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has now become the focal point of a sweeping crackdown by Egypt’s military-backed authorities. State and private media dub this a “war on terror,” although there are currently no clear links between the organization and the country’s jihadist militants.

Although there has been a pronounced uptick in the months since the coup, attacks have mostly concentrated on security installations in the restive north Sinai region.

The spread of militant violence to south Sinai will come as a particular concern to Egypt’s interim government as it struggles to avert an economic nose dive catalyzed by the unrest that followed the 2011 uprising. South Sinai is the site of several key tourist destinations, including the beach resort of Sharm el Sheikh. Egypt’s economy has traditionally been heavily bolstered by tourism.

The triple attacks came the day after security forces reacted fiercely to protests by anti-coup protesters on Egypt’s National Armed Forces Day. As thousands gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Egypt’s 1973 war with Israel, just 2-1/2 miles away, riot police were fighting pitched battles with supporters of the former president.

By nightfall, 46 bodies had been taken to Cairo’s morgues and the Dokki streets were littered with broken glass. Most of the dead had gunshot wounds to the upper body. No security personnel were killed.

Families lined up around the block of Cairo’s central morgue on Monday. Many expressed incomprehension at the previous day’s events.

“My son should not be dead. He was only marching for what he believed in,” said Marwa al-Abd, the mother of a 17-year-old boy who she says was shot by security forces. “His friends lost him when the police opened fire. When they found his body, he’d been shot in the neck."

Egypt’s military leader, Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi responded to the violence with a late-night speech promising to continue fulfilling “the people’s mandate to confront terrorism.”

“We will protect Egypt and the Egyptians. This is a promise,” he said.

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