Pentagon voices concern on Egypt bombings

U.S. defense chief offers assistance in investigating a recent spate of bomb attacks in Egypt

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In a call to Egypt army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Sunday offered U.S. assistance to investigate a recent spate of bomb attacks in Egypt.

Hagel expressed his condolences for the victims of the bomb attacks, a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement.


On Sunday, a bomb exploded near an army intelligence building in Sharqiya province in the Nile Delta, wounding four soldiers. The Egyptian Army labeled the incident a “cowardly terrorist” act.

It was the third such attack in less than a week.

Another was averted on Sunday when experts defused a bomb near the front gate of al-Azhar’s medical faculty in New Damietta city north of Cairo, security officials said.

On Tuesday, a suicide car bomber killed 15 people at a police building in Mansoura, north of the capital. And on Thursday, a bomb in Cairo wounded five people on a bus.

The Mansoura attack, one of the deadliest since Islamist President Mohammad Mursi’s ouster in July, triggered widespread outrage.

A day after that attack, which was claimed by al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists, the authorities accused the Brotherhood of perpetrating it and listed the Islamist movement to which Mursi belongs as a “terrorist organization.”

But the Brotherhood, which prevailed in all elections since the ouster of strongman Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, said it is “innocent of any violent incident that has (been) or will be committed.”

In his call with Sisi, Hagel also “stressed the role of political inclusiveness,” and the two men discussed “the balance between security and freedom,” spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in the statement.

“Secretary Hagel also expressed concerns about the political climate in advance of the constitutional referendum, including the continued enforcement of a restrictive demonstrations law,” Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

Egypt’s army-backed government has used the new classification to detained hundreds of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, and thousands more are already in jail.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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