Explosion Hits Bridge in Central Cairo, Killing At Least One – The Wall Street Journal

04-05-2015

Original Post

By  TAMER EL-GHOBASHY

CAIRO—A police officer was killed and two civilians were injured when a device exploded on a crowded bridge bordering an upscale neighborhood of Egypt’s capital, security officials said.

Ajnad Misr, or Soldiers of Egypt—an extremist group that has carried out a series of similar attacks since January 2014—claimed responsibility for the attack in a social media post in which it named the officer as the intended target.

The blast on Sunday fits a pattern of attacks in Egypt over the past two years in which a number of militant groups have detonated small bombs in civilian areas, causing casualties, mostly among security personnel in the greater Cairo region.

The attack targeted an overpass known as the 15th of May Bridge, which traverses the central Cairo neighborhood of Zamalek, situated on an island in the Nile river.

In recent months, such attacks have targeted light infrastructure such as electricity boxes and businesses affiliated with Western and Gulf companies, including mobile-phone stores. Multiple extremist groups, all hostile toward Egypt’s current government, have claimed responsibility for the dozens of attacks.

Sunday’s bombing was in keeping with Ajnad Misr’s tendency to aim its attacks at police and military personnel. In a Twitter post on Sunday, the group named the dead officer as Hamdi Sabri al-Malijiand indicated he had been specifically targeted, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadist activity online.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry didn’t respond to requests for comment and didn’t disclose the identity of the officer.

Many Egyptians see such attacks as targeting the country’s economy and security environment.

Foreign aid has largely propped up Egypt’s finances since a military coup in July 2013 removed the nation’s first freely elected president, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, and replaced him withAbdel Fattah Al Sisi.

The Muslim Brotherhood has distanced itself from the bombings and has consistently called for peaceful protests against the government. But small, local extremist groups have flourished and have claimed responsibility for other attacks on police and military personnel.

According to the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, a Washington-based think tank, Ajnad Misr has claimed responsibility for at least 15 attacks, almost all in greater Cairo, since January 2014. The group is one of a number of extremist organizations that have risen to prominence since the coup, using social media to brand themselves and promote their attacks.

Egypt’s military has waged a decadeslong battle with a radical Islamist insurgency in the North Sinai region that intensified sharply after Mr. Morsi was ousted. Mr. Sisi, the onetime military general, has struggled to contain the Sinai insurgents, who on Thursday attacked several military checkpoints, killing 15 soldiers and two civilians.

The largest group in that region, Ansar Beit Al Maqdis, last year pledged allegiance to Islamic State, the Sunni militant group that controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

Write to Tamer El-Ghobashy at tamer.el-ghobashy@wsj.com

Category: In the News

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