A bomb blast outside the security headquarters in one of Egypt’s Nile Delta cities wounded 19 people, security officials said yesterday, raising fears of deteriorating security after former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster.
Eleven people have been killed in clashes between supporters and opponents of the ousted president since Monday. Most were killed 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.
A pro-Morsi group claimed yesterday another two people were killed in a march in Cairo by assailants who fired from rooftops.
The bloodshed is widening the divisions between Morsi’s supporters and the military-backed administration and diminishing the chances of reconciliation.
Yesterday’s bomb explosion appeared to target police in the provincial capital city of Mansoura in the delta province of Dakahliya. It raised the specter that indiscriminate attacks targeting security forces could expand to larger cities beyond the usual targets in northern Sinai.
Security officials said 19 people were wounded, 13 policemen and six civilians, when the bomb outside the security directorate in Mansoura exploded after midnight.
Police exchanged gunfire with unidentified people inside a nearby abandoned building afterward.
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.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party condemned the attack in a statement posted on the group’s Web site and vowed to hold peaceful protests, saying they would not be dragged into violence.
Yomna Ahmed, from the Anti-Coup Coalition that works closely with the Brotherhood, said two pro-Morsi protesters were shot dead by snipers on rooftops early yesterday during a march in a residential neighborhood of Cairo.
Running street battles that erupted the night before were among the most intense since the crisis began on July 3.
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 massive 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 had no word on the identity of the gunmen. All of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
The Muslim Brotherhood, however, blamed the killings on “thugs” sponsored by the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior, a charge the Islamist group from which Morsi hails often uses to dismiss the notion that it was at odds with other segments of the population.