News Column

Police Killed in Sinai in Egyptian Uproar

August 19, 2013

Cairo (dpa) - Suspected militants killed 25 Egyptian police officers in the Sinai Peninsula on Monday, security officials said, as Islamists planned to go ahead with protests despite a warning from the military.

The gunmen ambushed two buses, ferrying the officers, with rocket-propelled grenades. They were en route from the town of Rafah, on the border with the Palestinian Gaza Strip, to the provincial capital of al-Arish.

The officers who survived the initial attack were then forced off the buses, lined up and shot execution-style, officials said.

Three survivors were taken to hospital and their condition was listed as critical.

Security forces cordoned off access points between the Sinai Peninsula and the rest of the country after the attack, and closed the Rafah border with Gaza.

Army and police reinforcements were rushed to Rafah and the nearby area of Sheikh Zuweid.

The remote desert region of Sinai has seen regular attacks by Islamist militants on security forces since the 2011 revolution that toppled president Hosny Mubarak.

The rate of attacks has surged since the military overthrew president Mohammed Morsi in on July 3.

In Cairo, an Islamist alliance called for afternoon demonstrations demanding that Morsi be reinstated, in defiance of a continuing crackdown on protesters.

The National Alliance Supporting Legitimacy said marches would set off from nine Cairo mosques as part of what it has dubbed the "Week of Departure."

The marches come despite a strong warning from the military against violence, after a major Muslim Brotherhood demonstration on Friday degenerated into bloody clashes with police in central Cairo.

The Islamists condemned the Sunday night incident in which 36 detainees from Friday's protest died in unclear circumstances.

"Whatever the circumstances, these citizens were in the care of the Interior Ministry ... and it decided to physically liquidate them in revenge for their stance against the blood-thirsty Military Council," the Alliance charged.

The Interior Ministry said the 36 died of suffocation when the authorities used tear gas in suppressing a mass escape attempt by 612 detainees, who had taken one of their guards hostage.

In Brussels, European Union ambassadors were meeting to discuss a response to the developments in Egypt. One option on the table was the suspension of the bloc's 5-billion-euro (6.7-billion-dollar) aid programme, according to EU diplomats.

The EU would "urgently review" its relations with Egypt, EU President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said at the weekend, calling for an immediate end to the violence and a return to political dialogue.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed his concern about the situation, telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It is a very bleak situation ... it is hard to underestimate the hate and distrust on both sides of the politics in Egypt."

"But I would not accept ... there is nothing at all we can do about it," the Press Association quoted him as saying.

"Our influence may be limited - it is a proudly independent country - and there may be years of turbulence in Egypt and other countries going through this profound debate about the nature of democracy and the role of religion in their society," Hague added.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters