10 Egyptian soldiers killed in bomb attack

10 Egyptian soldiers killed in bomb attack
Protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square yesterday. Picture: AP

A suicide bomber has rammed his explosive-laden car into one of two buses carrying off-duty soldiers in Egypt’s turbulent region of northern Sinai, killing 10 and wounding 35.

The bomber struck when the two buses travelled on the road between the border town of Rafah and the coastal city of el-Arish. The explosion damaged both buses, officials said.

The soldiers belong to the 2nd Field Army, which is doing most of the fighting against Islamic militants waging an insurgency against security forces in Sinai. The buses were on their way to Cairo.

The northern Sinai region, which borders Gaza and Israel, has been restless for years, but attacks have grown more frequent and deadlier since the July ousting of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but suicide car bombings are a signature method by militant groups linked to or inspired by al Qaida.

It was the latest in a series of similar attacks targeting army and police facilities and checkpoints. In August, gunmen pulled 25 police conscripts off minibuses in the Sinai and shot them dead on the side of the main road linking Rafah to el-Arish.

Northern Sinai’s violence occasionally has spilled over into cities in the southern part of the peninsula as well as mainland Egypt, targeting policemen, soldiers and politicians.

In September, the interior minister, who is in charge of the police, survived an assassination attempt by a suicide car bomb. Earlier this week, a senior security officer who monitors Islamist groups, including Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, was shot dead as he drove in Cairo’s eastern Nasr City district.

Nasr City is a Brotherhood stronghold and home to several military barracks.

Authorities have waged a major crackdown against the Brotherhood, arresting some 2,000 top and middle-level members and several thousand followers. Hundreds were killed when security forces cleared two protest camps of Morsi supporters in August.

Mr Morsi, along with the group’s top leaders, are in detention and face trials on charges that vary from murder and inciting murder to conspiring with foreign powers and corruption.

Supporters of the former president have staged near-daily protests against the July 3 coup, mostly in universities. The number of protesters, however, has been dwindling, although they occasionally mass several thousand.

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