Car Bomb Kills 14 in Egypt as Police Building Targeted

Photographer: Ahmed Ashraf/AP Photo

The scene of an explosion at a police headquarters building that killed at least a dozen people, wounded more than 100, and left scores buried under the rubble, in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, north of Cairo on Dec. 24, 2013. Close

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Photographer: Ahmed Ashraf/AP Photo

The scene of an explosion at a police headquarters building that killed at least a dozen people, wounded more than 100, and left scores buried under the rubble, in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, north of Cairo on Dec. 24, 2013.

A car bomb blew up outside a security headquarters in Egypt’s Nile Delta, killing at least 14 people and fueling concerns that militant assaults may multiply beyond the restive Sinai Peninsula.

The attack, which Prime Minister Hazem El Beblawi called the “most heinous kind of terrorism,” left at least 100 people wounded in the city of Mansoura northeast of Cairo, the deadliest single strike on security forces outside Sinai since Islamist President Mohamed Mursi was ousted. At least 12 of the dead were security personnel, the Interior Ministry said.

Assaults on Egypt’s security forces have intensified since Mursi’s July 3 removal, centered for the most part in Sinai and surrounding provinces. The Nile Delta bombing suggests that such attacks may “very soon also travel to Upper Egypt down the Nile valley,” said Ziad Akl, a senior researcher at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.

“It could signal the beginning of a process of diffusion all over Egypt,” Akl said by phone.

Egypt’s benchmark EGX 30 Index of stocks fell as much as 1.2 percent today before closing up 0.7 percent.

El Beblawi said his cabinet would discuss the violence tomorrow, while the presidency announced three days of mourning.

Photographer: Mahmoud Khaled/AFP via Getty Images

The government said the blast was an attempt to derail a plan to restore democratic rule after the military removed Mursi from power in July. Close

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Photographer: Mahmoud Khaled/AFP via Getty Images

The government said the blast was an attempt to derail a plan to restore democratic rule after the military removed Mursi from power in July.

Purge Vowed

Authorities vowed to purge the country of “extremist groups” and accused the attackers of trying to derail a plan to restore democratic rule to the nation, now governed by military-backed officials. Next month, Egypt is scheduled to hold a referendum on a new constitution, meant to pave the way for parliamentary and presidential elections.

A car packed with dozens of kilograms of TNT was parked near the security headquarters, said Mohamed Ibrahim, head of the explosives department at the Interior Ministry in Cairo. Fourteen people were killed, Health Ministry spokesman Mohamed Fathalla said by phone.

Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, who toured the site of the blast, said security agencies will continue their “war” on the “forces of black terror,” according to state-run Middle East News Agency. Ibrahim himself escaped an assassination attempt in September in Cairo.

After the blast, El Beblawi labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization,” MENA reported, citing his media adviser, Sherif Shawky. There was no government confirmation of that report, which, if true, may signal an impending escalation of the government’s crackdown on the group. Cabinet spokesman Hany Salah, speaking by phone, cited El Beblawi as saying that whoever carried out the bombing was a “terrorist.”

Intensified Crackdown

In a brief televised address, El Beblawi noted a ruling banning the activities of the Brotherhood. “The state is implementing this with all firmness but what we saw” spells a “qualitative shift in the size of terrorism,” he said.

Interim authorities may use the attack to begin “a phase of getting rid of the Muslim Brotherhood,” even though no “solid legal evidence” has been presented to incriminate the group in the bombing, Akl said.

The Brotherhood, which demands Mursi’s reinstatement, condemned the bombing in a statement, calling it “a direct attack on the unity of the Egyptian people.” It accused the prime minister of exploiting “the blood of innocent Egyptians through inflammatory statements designed to create further violence.”

Strengthened Resolve

Mursi’s overthrow was followed by a government crackdown that has left hundreds of his supporters and dozens of security forces dead, and Islamist leaders in jail. Soldiers and police, meanwhile, have been pursuing militants in Sinai in an offensive they say aims to root out terror cells.

“Such cowardly attacks, carried out by an aberrant group” strengthens the army’s resolve to purge the country of “supporters of extremist groups trying to tamper with Egypt national security,” according to comments posted today on army spokesman Ahmed Mohamed Ali’s Facebook page.

Egypt’s political turmoil has weighed on the economy, with gross domestic product expanding no more than 1 percent in the three months ending September, according to the Middle East News Agency. About $15 billion in aid pledges from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have helped boost the country’s stocks and bonds.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alaa Shahine in Dubai at asalha@bloomberg.net; Mariam Fam in Cairo at mfam1@bloomberg.net; Ahmed Khalilelsayed in Cairo at akhalilelsay@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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