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      Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Cairo Car Bombing

      Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Cairo Car Bombing Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Cairo Car Bombing Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Cairo Car Bombing
      Photo by Khaled Elfiqi/EPA

      Middle East

      Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Cairo Car Bombing

      By John Beck

      The so-called Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a Cairo police building today that injured 29 people.

      A vehicle laden with explosives detonated outside the premises in the capital's northern Shubra al-Khaima neighborhood early on Thursday morning, shattering windows, destroying a wall, and leaving a large crater. There were no immediate reports of deaths, but six police officers were among the wounded, officials said.

      "A man suddenly stopped his car in front of the state security building, jumped out of it, and left on a motorbike traveling behind the car," the interior ministry said in a statement. It added that they were combing the area and intensifying security efforts in the aftermath of the blast.

      IS said "soldiers of the caliphate" had carried out the attack to avenge six convicted militants executed in May, according to an unverified statement circulated on IS-linked Twitter accounts and by jihadist monitoring group Site Intelligence.

      A local IS-affiliated militant organization which calls itself "Sinai Province" has played a prominent role in a wave of attacks on security forces that has left hundreds dead. The Sinai region has been in the grip of a full-blown insurgency since democratically elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military two years ago, but violence has also spread to Cairo.  

      A local resident sits in his demolished car close to the the scene where a bomb detonated next to a national security building (background) in Cairo. Photo by Oliver Weiken

      Last month IS also claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on the Italian embassy in Cairo that killed one civilian. Meanwhile, Sinai Province apparently decapitated Croatian engineer Tomislav Salopek earlier this month after kidnapping him outside the capital. State prosecutor Hisham Barakat was killed in a Cairo car bombing in June.

      President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's government launched a massive crackdown on supporters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood after the former-president's ouster, killing hundreds and jailing thousands more. It added the group to its terror list in December and sentenced hundreds to death in mass hearings. Morsi himself was also given a death sentence along with other senior brotherhood members, a verdict which is currently subject to appeal.

      In response to Barakat's death, the cabinet also passed a new anti-terror law allowing hefty punishments for a broad definition of terrorism charges and requested a faster appeals process, a move critics viewed as restricting basic legal rights, but that Sisi said would help bring terrorists to justice faster.

      Photo by Oliver Weiken

      The law, which Sisi ratified on Sunday, also threatens journalists who report non-official casualty statistics for attacks on security forces with fines of between 200,000 and 500,000 Egyptian pounds ($25,500- $63,800).

      Human Rights Watch condemned the new legislation on Wednesday saying it "erodes basic rights." "Egypt's new counterterrorism law increases authorities' power to impose heavy sentences, including the death penalty, for crimes under a definition of terrorism that is so broadly worded it could encompass civil disobedience," the group said in a statement.

      Press freedom has further deteriorated under Sisi's rule, and international and local reporters in the country describe the situation as bleaker than ever, with all but a tiny minority of independent news outlets now peddling the state line. In October 2014, a group of Egyptian newspaper editors even released a declaration in which they promised to limit reports that showed official institutions in a bad light.

      Follow John Beck on Twitter: @JM_Beck

      Topics: middle east, cairo, egypt, islamic state, bombing, terrorism

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