Suicide Car Bombs Hit Egypt Security Targets in North Sinai

Two suicide car bombs struck security targets in North Sinai, killing at least six people, as the military pressed an offensive in the volatile region, security officials and state media said.

The explosions in the town of Rafah, along the border with the Gaza Strip, took place near the military intelligence building and a security checkpoint, the state-run Middle East News Agency said. Six soldiers were killed in the attacks carried out by “terrorist elements,” the Facebook page of military spokesman Ahmed Mohamed Ali said. The bombings come after Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim survived a Sept. 5 attack by suspected militants on his convoy in Cairo.

Ali Azzazi, head of criminal investigations in North Sinai, and MENA described the attacks as suicide car bombings. At least 17 people, including seven civilians, were injured, MENA said, adding one of the blasts destroyed the main gate of the intelligence building and damaged outside walls.

Last week, Egypt’s military and security forces began an offensive targeting militants in the largely lawless Sinai, alongside a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood begun after the army overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on July 3.

Cycle of Violence

“The crackdown on Islamists and trying to repress them violently will never stop violence,” Ziad Akl, senior researcher with Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said by phone. “Violent confrontations will have a very temporary effect, but on the long run they will simply create new forms of violence.”

“We’re paying the price of how Sinai has been marginalized for decades, which makes it a perfect soil for the rise of insurgency,” Akl said.

Today’s attack complicates the interim government’s efforts to restore security, revive a battered economy and return the country to elected rule in the face of opposition by Mursi supporters who vow to reverse his ouster.

Egyptian security officials have long voiced concern about the unrest in Sinai. Attacks on security forces, which have killed army and police personnel, have increased since Mursi was pushed from power in what the Muslim Brotherhood says was a military coup.

The Rafah border crossing was closed as a “precautionary measure” after the attacks, MENA said.

Officials declared a state of emergency a month ago, including a curfew that has since been eased. Interim Prime Minister Hazem El Beblawi was quoted by the Al-Masry al-Youm newspaper as saying the measure may be extended.

“When we imposed the state of emergency, we thought one month was enough,” he said. The assassination attempt on the interior minister “represented a change” in the nature of security.

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