Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi are both dying and killing in growing numbers in Egypt after this weekend’s violence. Monday’s round of clashes comes just as a panel of Egyptian judges voted to disband the political arm of the Morsi supporters’ outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. It also follows confrontations that killed at least 50 people on Sunday, making it the deadliest day yet in Egypt’s escalating conflict.
Violence on Monday included a car bombing in the southern Sinai peninsula, an ambush of soldiers near the Suez Canal, and a rocket-propelled grenade strike on a satellite communications station in Cairo. These represent an expansion of the conflict in unexpected directions, since the south Sinai has been largely peaceful during the conflict, and the strike on the center of Egypt’s telecommunications in Cairo is the most significant operation so far against the country’s physical infrastructure. It is also the most serious planned attack in Cairo since a car bomb almost killed Egyptian minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim in early September.
The 50 or more deaths on Sunday marked the largest number of deaths since Mohamed Morsi was deposed, amid what were intended to be celebrations of the military that overthrew him. The October 6 festivities honored the country’s powerful military and commemorated the anniversary of the Egyptian army attacking Israel at the opening of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. But when Muslim Brotherhood members attempted to make their way to Tahrir Square—the center of the Egyptian revolution that toppled long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak and a location dominated by those opposed to the Islamists—they came into conflict with government security forces.
The deadly clash that followed killed at least 50 people.
Analysts have expected growing numbers of both killings by militant Mohamed Morsi supporters and civilians dying since the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood by the military backing Egypt’s current government began this past August.
The northern end of the Sinai peninsula has been the site of almost daily attacks against security forces since Morsi was deposed, but violence in the more peaceful southern Sinai was new. The Egyptian Interior Ministry said the detonation of a car bomb in El Tor, a town in south Sinai, took place outside a security building and killed three police officers, leaving 48 others wounded.
This growing violence has accompanied protests across Egypt, as crowds loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood persist in disobeying the security crackdown. The protesters are often heard chanting slogans condemning Egypt’s military, which overthrew Morsi after the former president granted himself unlimited powers and issued an Islamist constitution, triggering massive unrest across the country.
Arguably the most powerful political force in Egypt, the military previously withdrew support from the country’s former ruler, Hosni Mubarak, who held power for twenty years, and their shift in loyalties proved to be the nail in the coffin for the previous Egyptian regime.
As for Morsi himself, he has not been allowed to make any public statements since military forces overthrew him and took him into custody. On Friday, new allegations were announced against the former president, including conspiring with the terrorist group Hamas as well as charges of murder. It is unclear how or if these new charges are contributing to the attacks and protests in which Mohamed Morsi’s supporters are both dying and killing in growing numbers in Egyppt.
By: Jeremy Forbing
Channel News Asia