CAIRO, Egypt—A powerful explosion killed at least 14 people and left 130 wounded at a local police security headquarters (HQ) early Tuesday morning. The explosions were placed and detonated as a pair, with the blasts occurring nearly simultaneously.
The attack ripped through the police HQ building and neighborhood of Mansoura, a city on the Egypt Nile Delta. So powerful were the explosions that a nearby five-story bank collapsed and dozens of automobiles were destroyed. Mansoura’s security head was among the injured and the total number of dead is expected to increase as the rubble is searched.
A third bomb located in a nearby car was isolated and defused, reports the semi-official Ahram newspaper. All victims are reported to have been transported to hospitals.
At this time searches are still underway to include the nearby neighborhood. Survivors that removed themselves from the scene to report or find aid may be among those that are not accounted for.
Hospitals, though busy with casualties, are well stocked with blood and supplies. There is no shortage of medication or medical equipment says a senior Health Ministry official.
Hazem el-Beblawi, the Interim Prime Minister, said that the attack was “hideous,” and the work of terrorists. He accuses the terrorists of purposely threatening the people in an attempt to thwart the implementation of the Egyptian military’s “transition roadmap,” that has been in place since the ouster of former President Morsi. He vows that the attackers will be punished severely and he believes the group responsible is Egypt’s oldest Islamist Movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood has historically been influential in government—it was considered to be supported by the president—but in October Egyptian officials removed the group from the government’s accredited list of non-governmental organizations. Previous to this, a Cairo court ordered a ban on all activities of the Brotherhood group, as well as a seizure of its funds.
“The Brotherhood has shown its ugly face as a terrorist group and its acts will not weaken the Egyptian people’s determination to move forward,” said the prime minister’s media adviser, Sherif Sawqi.
A similar explosion that injured 11 people took place earlier on July 24, in Mansoura. This series of attacks—alongside another string of bombings that have taken place across the country—follow very closely on the heels of the fall of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.
Tensions are high and the military is looking at the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist militants are based in the volatile northern Sinai Peninsula, and the government of Egypt has launched an offensive to crack down on them. This most recent bombing may be in retaliation to that crackdown.
This blast has been reported as the worst in the city’s history. The actual cause of the explosion has remained unclear, “but it seems to be a big one that led to the collapse of parts of the security building,” reported an unnamed security official during a state television interview.
Brotherhood officials, many of whom have fled the country, could not be reached for comment on the government’s charges.
By Matt Darjany