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24 Dec, 2013 02:14

Egyptian govt spokesman describes Muslim Brotherhood as 'terrorist' group

Egyptian govt spokesman describes Muslim Brotherhood as 'terrorist' group

Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem Al Beblawi condemned explosions early Tuesday at a police headquarters in Mansoura that killed at least 14 as an act of terrorism, vowing to “pursue the criminals who executed, planned and supported that attack.”

Meanwhile, Cabinet spokesman Sherif Shawki pointed at the Muslim Brotherhood as responsible for the bombing, saying the Islamist group revealed its "ugly face as a terrorist organization shedding blood and messing with Egypt's security,” according to Middle East News Agency.

Beblawi would not go as far as Shawki, refusing to confirm any official terrorist designation for the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Ahram reported. He did say the attack was meant to disrupt a path to democratic rule following former President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster by the military in July.

“This is an act of terrorism that aims at frightening the people and obstructing the road map. The black hands behind this act want to destroy the future of our country,” Beblawi told Egyptian satellite channel ONTV.

“The state will do its utmost to pursue the criminals who executed, planned and supported that attack."

The Muslim Brotherhood later denied any involvement in the attack.

"The Muslim Brotherhood condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack on the police headquarters in Mansoura (region)," an emailed statement from the group's London press office read, as quoted by Reuters.

He promised to punish the perpetrators, as Egypt is set to vote next month on a referendum regarding a newly-drafted constitution. Parliamentary and presidential elections will supposedly follow.

“Whoever is behind this act is a terrorist and will be brought to justice and punished according to the law. But I don’t want to anticipate the incidents," Beblawi said.

Cabinet spokesman, Sherif Shawki’s, accusations against the Muslim Brotherhood are another sign of the Egyptian interim government’s paying too much attention to fighting the organization at the expense of solving more pressing economic issues, according to Lawrence Freeman of the Executive Intelligence Review magazine.

So there’s been a very heavy crackdown [on the Muslim Brotherhood] in Egypt and unfortunately really the more important aspects of where Egypt has got to go in the future are not yet being acted on in the full scope. Because what the people really need is economic development. They need jobs, they need a future… And unfortunately these economic policies have not yet been thoroughly discussed or been implemented,” Freeman told RT.

The deadly attack in Mansoura took place a day after the Al-Qaeda inspired group, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, or the Champions of Jerusalem, called on police officers and members of the army to desert their posts, threatening those who didn’t with death. If the group claims responsibility for the Tuesday bombings, it could, according to Freeman, indicate the beginning of “asymmetric terrorist warfare against the current Government of Egypt by Al-Qaeda related networks”.

If this attack is followed by more attacks that indicate the escalation of terrorist warfare against the state of Egypt by Al-Qaeda to disrupt the entire Middle East, this would be very serious and has implications for potentially wider regional warfare in the region that could bring in various superpowers in the world as well,” he said.

The state health ministry reports at least 14 dead and 130 injured after multiple explosions at a security directorate in Mansoura, capital of the Daqahliya province in northern Egypt, occurred Tuesday morning. Most of the dead are police agents who were inside the partially collapsed five-floor building, AP reported.

The head of the security directorate was among those injured, Daqahliya governor Omar El-Shawadfy told Egypt state television.

The casualty toll is expected to rise in Mansoura based on reports from the scene, General Manager of Mansoura’s hospitals Hisham Masoud told Al-Ahram.