Egypt bombing targets police

Explosion outside security headquarters in Mansoura city follows three days of street battles in which 11 people have died

A bomb blast has caused up to 20 casualties at the security headquarters of Mansoura city in Egypt, authorities have said. The apparent direct attack on police in the capital of Dakahliya province came after three days of street clashes in which 11 people died as supporters and opponents of ousted President Mohamed Morsi continued to battle it out.

Most of the deaths took place in pre-dawn street battles near a pro-Morsi protest camp as the country remained mired in turmoil three weeks after the military overthrew the Islamist leader.

The Associated Press, quoting security officials, said 19 people were wounded – 13 police and six civilians – when the bomb outside the Mansoura security directorate exploded after midnight.

Reuters said one person was killed and up to 17 wounded and that the bomb had been thrown from a passing car.

The city had been bustling with people because of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

Police officials exchanged gunfire with unidentified people inside a nearby abandoned building afterward. No further details were immediately available.

Presidential spokesman Ahmad al-Muslimani released a statement calling the incident an act of terrorism. “The Mansoura terrorist incident will not waver Egypt’s resolve,” he said. “Egypt has triumphed in the war against terrorism before and will win again today.”

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party condemned the attack in a statement posted on the group’s website and vowed to hold peaceful protests, saying the movement would not be dragged into violence.

Running street battles that began before dawn on Tuesday have been among the most intense since the crisis began on 3 July. Wednesday’s bomb raised the spectre of indiscriminate attacks targeting security forces and going beyond traditional targets in northern Sinai.

Morsi’s continued detention is fuelling anger among his supporters. Egypt’s first freely elected leader has been held incommunicado and without charge.

Clashes broke out after Morsi supporters began marching from their sit-in outside the main campus of Cairo University to a nearby mosque. The protesters blocked roads, causing traffic jams and angering residents.

Security officials said the fighting turned deadly after masked gunmen appeared and started shooting at the Morsi supporters with live ammunition and birdshot. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to release the information, had no word on the identity of the gunmen.

The Muslim Brotherhood blamed the killings on “thugs” sponsored by the interior ministry, a charge the Islamist group often uses to dismiss the notion that it is at odds with other segments of the population.

Khaled el-Khateeb, who heads the health ministry’s emergency and intensive care department, said six people were killed near the pro-Morsi sit-in. The security officials put the casualty toll at seven killed and 11 injured.

Morsi’s ouster followed massive street protests by millions of Egyptians. His supporters are calling for his reinstatement and insist they will not join the military-backed political process until then.

In a separate development, two rights groups – Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – urged Egyptian authorities to investigate a spate of attacks against Christians following Morsi’s ouster and bring their perpetrators to account. At least six Christians have been killed and scores injured in at least six provinces since 3 July.

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