Mohammed Mursi

Attacks surge in Egypt as instability spreads

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 October, 2013, 9:29pm

A string of attacks that killed nine members of the security forces and hit the main satellite communications station show a dangerous expansion of targets in Egypt, including the first strike against civilian infrastructure in the heart of the capital, Cairo.

They also blur the lines between the country's political instability, continued protests against the military ousting of President Mohammed Mursi, and an insurgency that had previously been largely confined to the northern Sinai peninsula.

It is also likely to harden positions of the military-backed government and its opponents.

Monday's attacks were an apparent retaliation by Islamic militants a day after more than 50 Mursi supporters were killed in clashes with police.

"We are at war with them," said Mohamed Ibrahim, the country's interior minister, pointing to militant groups.

"This is an attempt to prove they are still around and are not broken," he said, without being specific. They "also aim to confuse, to distract" security forces.

In another development likely to give momentum to the crackdown on Islamists, a panel of judges recommended the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), registered months after Hosni Mubarak stepped down in 2011.

The judges' recommendation said the party represented an outlawed group. The recommendations will be delivered to a Cairo court reviewing a case demanding the party's dissolution on October 19.

Another court had already ordered a ban on the Brotherhood's activities, and frozen its assets, a decision being reviewed by a government-appointed committee amid legal challenges from group members.

Ashraf Badreddin, an FJP member, said authorities had shut party offices long before the court decision, and the recommendation was politicised.

At least 2,000 of the group's leading and mid-level members have been detained. Most will face trial on charges that range from murder and inciting violence to abuse of power and conspiring with foreign powers. Hundreds others died in a violent crackdown on protests and sit-ins held by Mursi supporters.

Authorities accuse Mursi supporters of seeking to create chaos to discredit the new government. The government declared it is waging a war against terrorism.

A suicide bomber struck a security headquarters in the town of el-Tor, in southern Sinai, on Monday, killing three policemen, wounding 55 others, and damaging the building.

In another attack, masked gunmen pulled alongside a pickup truck full of troops on patrol near the Suez Canal and opened fire, killing six soldiers.