Egyptian soldiers killed in Ismailiya and Sinai attacks

Security forces have been the victims of frequent attacks in Sinai

At least nine Egyptian soldiers and police officers have been killed in two attacks in different regions.

Officials said a car bomb killed three police officers in southern Sinai, hours after masked gunmen shot dead six soldiers in a patrol car outside the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya.

Rockets also hit a government-run satellite station in Cairo. No group has said it carried out the attacks.

Dozens died on Sunday in clashes between Islamists and security forces.

Thousands of supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi fought with security forces in Cairo, in the most intense violence for several weeks.


Many might see the rash of attacks in Sinai and elsewhere as implying that frustrated supporters of Mohammed Morsi were turning violent to vent their anger and take revenge. That narrative certainly suits the military and the interim government it backs. They have justified the eradication campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood by accusing them of involvement in violence.

Historically there has been a somewhat blurred line between the "moderate" Islamism of the Brotherhood and the radicalism of al-Qaeda-style groups that carried out attacks on tourists in Egypt in the 1990s.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri disapproved of the Brotherhood's involvement in democratic politics, and pointed to the current situation as proof of its mistake. But the anti-Brotherhood campaign in any case has proven so relentless that it would not be surprising if some supporters were to see violence as the only option. Though clearly that would only provoke further repression.

Cairo itself has returned to calm, although the Islamists have urged their supporters to continue their protests.

In Monday's string of attacks:

  • An officer was among at least six soldiers killed in a drive-by shooting by gunmen outside Ismailiya
  • Three police officers died and 40 people were injured in the car-bomb attack in al-Tour, southern Sinai, which left a four-storey building used by the security forces significantly damaged
  • Assailants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a state-owned satellite station in the Maadi suburb of Cairo, reportedly causing damage to a satellite dish

Police in Qaliubiya, north of Cairo, arrested 38 members of the Muslim Brotherhood carrying petrol bombs, firecrackers and masks as they stormed a metro station, reported Mena state news agency.

The Brotherhood members "opened fire on police troops and residents and destroyed entrance and exit gates of the station", it said.

Security forces have been the frequent victims of attacks in northern Sinai, where analysts say a fully fledged insurgency is building.

Aftermath of bomb attack in al-Tour, Egypt (7 October 2013) Officials said a car bomb killed three police officers in southern Sinai

But the south of the peninsula, which is a centre of tourism, had remained largely peaceful until the attack in al-Tour on Monday.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Cairo says Sinai is a magnet for militants, and weapons have been shipped there from Libya.

The Egyptian military is in the middle of its biggest operation in Sinai for many years, he adds.

Monday's attacks will raise further fears of a confrontation between Islamists and the army, correspondents say.

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