Thursday 2 July 2020 \


Deadly Attacks Heighten Tension in Egypt

The first two attacks occurred in the southern Sinai region

Source : NY Times / 05 May 2014

Four separate bombings in Egypt killed at least five people on Friday in a sharp escalation of militant violence just weeks before the country is scheduled to hold a presidential election.

The first two attacks occurred in the southern Sinai region, shortly after dawn, when suicide bombers struck a military checkpoint, killing at least one officer, as well as a civilian bus carrying tourism workers, injuring four passengers, the Interior Ministry said.

A few hours later, a traffic officer was killed in the Heliopolis neighborhood of Cairo, the capital, when an explosive device detonated at a traffic post. And on Friday evening, a man whom the authorities identified as a military officer was killed when a bomb exploded in his car in the heart of downtown Cairo.

The surge in attacks highlighted the faltering effort by the authorities to curb a wave of militancy that began a few months after the army removed President Mohamed Morsi in July. While attacks on Egypt’s security forces have become routine, violence directly against civilians, like the bus bombing, has been rare.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday’s bombings. In recent months, jihadist groups have claimed responsibility for the deadliest attacks, often framing them as retaliation for a government crackdown on Islamists that followed Mr. Morsi’s ouster. The militants have singled out heavily guarded security headquarters, assassinated police officers in broad daylight and downed a military helicopter in the Sinai Peninsula with a rocket-propelled grenade.

In February, militants bombed a bus carrying South Korean tourists in a resort town, killing four people. Hundreds of police officers and soldiers have been killed over the past eight months, according to Egyptian officials. The government has struggled to repair the country’s image overseas while officials watch tourism, a critical source of foreign currency, evaporate.

The Sinai bombings on Friday occurred in the town of El Tor, the provincial capital, which is about 70 miles from popular tourist resorts in Sharm el Sheikh.

Officials also fear that the attacks could disrupt the presidential election, which is scheduled to be held on May 26 and 27. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the former army officer who led the ouster of Mr. Morsi, is expected to win easily. Government officials have asserted that a successful election will be a milestone in Egypt’s transition that will deliver greater stability.

At the same time, though, Mr. Sisi’s role as Egypt’s de facto leader during the crackdown on Islamists has raised questions about whether his leadership will calm the violence. Mr. Morsi’s supporters have continued to hold regular demonstrations around the country, demanding the reversal of the military takeover.

On Friday, at least two people were killed during a march by anti-military protesters in the coastal city of Alexandria, the Interior Ministry said.


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