Gunmen killed six Egyptian soldiers in a drive-by shooting near the Suez Canal city of Ismailia yesterday, security sources said, shortly after a massive explosion hit a state security building in a town of el-Tor on the Sinai Peninsula, killing at least three and wounding 48.
On the same day, at least two rocket-propelled grenades slammed into a compound housing the country’s major satellite earth station in Maadi, a southern Cairo suburb, the sources said, in the latest in a series of attacks highlighting growing insecurity since former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the army in July.
The sources said the gunmen opened fire on the soldiers while they were sitting in a car at a checkpoint near Ismailia on the Suez Canal, a vital global trade route. The six included an officer, a lieutenant, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The dawn attack on the station caused only minor damage to one of the giant satellite dishes in the complex, but its significance was far wider, in part because it struck at the heart of the nation’s telecommunications center.
The attack in el-Tor may signal what could be the spread of attacks by Islamic militants, already active in northern Sinai.
Daily attacks against security forces in the north of the peninsula have increasingly resembled a full-fledged insurgency.
A radical Muslim Salafi group had threatened in a statement on Friday last week that it would kill anyone who collaborated with the military’s ongoing offensive against militants in northern Sinai, but no radical factions claimed responsibility for any of yesterday’s attacks.
The four-story building sustained serious damage and the officials said the blast was likely caused by a car bomb remote control.
Yesterday’s attacks come a day after at least 53 people were killed in clashes between security forces and supporters of Morsi across much of Egypt during holiday celebrations marking the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur War with Israel.
Authorities had warned that anyone protesting against the army during the anniversary would be regarded as an agent of foreign powers, not an activist.
At least 40 of those killed were in Cairo, where some neighborhoods saw hours of pitched street battles between police and protesters. The fighting left streets looking like combat zones.
Further confrontations may shake Egypt this week, with Morsi supporters calling protests for today and Friday.
They are likely to be angered by the publication of an interview with General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s commander-in-chief and minister of defense, yesterday in which he said he told Morsi as long ago as February that he had failed as president.