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Rediff.com  » News » Blast in Egypt kills 13, 'terrorist' group Brotherhood blamed

Blast in Egypt kills 13, 'terrorist' group Brotherhood blamed

December 24, 2013 22:28 IST

At least 13 people were killed on Tuesday and over a hundred injured when a powerful car bomb ripped through a police headquarters, an attack blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood aimed at derailing Egypt's democratic transition.

The bomb ripped through the multi-storey police headquarters in Mansoura, a city in Nile delta north of Cairo, shortly after 1:00 am (local time), killing at least 13 people and wounding 134, officials said.

"The majority of the casualties are from the police," said Omar al-Shawatsi, the governor of Daqahleya, of which Mansoura is the capital.

Daqahleya security chief Sami El-Mihi was wounded in the blast and two of his aides were killed, security officials said.

Earlier medics had put the dead toll at 14 but later revised it to 13. The interior ministry said 12 of the dead were policemen and a civilian was also killed in the blast. The bombing comes ahead of the January 14 referendum on a new constitution seen as the first major step towards democracy after the Islamist president Mohammed Morsi's ouster earlier this year.

Hours after the bombing, interim prime minister Hazem Beblawi labelled the Muslim Brotherhood as a "terrorist" group, accusing them of orchestrating the attack.

"This is an act of terrorism that aims at frightening the people and obstructing the roadmap. The black hands behind this act want to destroy the future of our country. The state will do its utmost to pursue the criminals who executed, planned and supported this attack," Beblawi told Egyptian TV channel ONTV.

The massive explosion -- whose impact was felt about 20 kilometres away -- stripped off the facade of the building and caused part of its structure to cave in and damaging parts of adjacent buildings which include the state's council, a theatre and a bank.

Interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim visited the site of the blast and said Egypt "will not be scared, on the contrary it will reinforce our determination to fight the terrorists".

Meanwhile, The Brotherhood condemned the bombing "in the strongest possible terms", and lashed out at Beblawi.

"It is no surprise that Beblawi, the military junta's puppet prime minister, has decided to exploit the blood of innocent Egyptians through inflammatory statements designed to create further violence, chaos and instability," the brotherhood said in a statement.

The 85-year-old Brotherhood, a political and social movement, came to power in Egypt last year following the overthrow of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011, and Morsi became the country's first freely elected leader.

Image: A man walks near debris after an explosion near security building in Egypt's Nile Delta city of Mansoura in Dakahlyia province, about 120 km northeast of Cairo

Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

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