The crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood continues — and so, inevitably, will the violent jihad revenge attacks. “Egypt arrests former Islamist PM,” from AFP, December 25:
Egyptian police arrested ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s former prime minister Tuesday as tensions rose after a major car-bomb attack on a police building killed 15 people.
The interior ministry said ex-premier Hisham Qandil, who is facing jail after being convicted of failing to respect a court ruling while in office, was arrested in the desert outside Cairo with a “smuggler attempting to escape to Sudan”.
An unpopular prime minister who struggled to right a dire economy, Qandil has kept a relatively low profile since the military overthrew Morsi in July.
He represented an alliance of pro-Morsi Islamist groups in meetings with European mediators who tried to defuse tensions with the military-installed government.
The efforts failed in August, with the police launching a massive crackdown that killed more than 1000 people in street clashes.
In April, while still in office, Qandil was sentenced to a year in prison for not carrying out a ruling to re-nationalise a company that had been privatised in 1996. An appeals court upheld the sentence in September.
Qandil’s arrest followed an early-morning car bombing outside the police headquarters in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura that killed at least 15 people, including at least 12 policemen.
The explosion, which the country’s military-installed authorities suggested was carried out by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, was one of the deadliest since the Islamist leader’s ouster, which has bitterly polarised the country.
The Muslim Brotherhood condemned the bombing “in the strongest possible terms”.
Analysts said the attack was likely the work of more radical Islamists, who have carried out a string of similar attacks in the Sinai peninsula targeting security forces.
Investigators say they suspect a suicide bomber rammed a car loaded with powerful explosives through barriers surrounding the building….
Hours after the bombing, prime minister Hazem Beblawi labelled the Brotherhood a “terrorist” group, but did not blame the organisation for the blast….
Crowds torched a bus belonging to a tourism company, saying its employees had made pro-Islamist salutes, and then ransacked a supermarket believed to belong to Muslim Brotherhood sympathisers.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is an international terrorist organisation. They are responsible for what happened in Mansoura,” said teacher Hamada Arafat.
Interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim said the explosion was meant to “terrorise” people ahead of a constitutional referendum next month billed as the first step in the democratic transition after Morsi’s overthrow, to be followed by fresh elections….