Violence continues against the government across Egypt

Gunmen in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia kill six soldiers in drive-by shooting

Deadly violence against the government broke out around Egypt yesterday as health officials raised to 53 the number said to have been killed the day before in clashes between supporters and opponents of the military takeover that ousted president Mohammed Morsi three months ago.

Unidentified gunmen in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia killed six soldiers including a lieutenant in a drive-by shooting, while a car bomb at the security headquarters in the southern Sinai town of El-Tor killed two police officers and injured almost 50 other people, state media reported.

In Cairo, assailants fired at least one rocket-propelled grenade through a satellite dish used to transmit Egyptian state television.

The grenade attack was reported to have only caused minor damage, but it was the first time since before the revolt against president Hosni Mubarak nearly three years ago that anyone had used such a heavy weapon in the vicinity of the capital.

It took place in Maadi, an affluent enclave up the Nile from central Cairo that is home to many embassies and diplomats and considered among the most secure precincts of the city.

Coming in the aftermath of the previous day’s clashes, the attacks were among the strongest indications yet that the new government appointed on July 3rd by Gen Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had not yet secured full control of the streets. The new government has sought to crush the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist supporters of Mr Morsi with a level of violence without precedent in modern Egyptian history. It has killed more than 1,000 protesters in mass shootings in the streets, imprisoned almost all of the Brotherhood’s leaders, and silenced much of the media.

The Sunday protests against the military takeover took place on a national holiday celebrating the military, when the new government called its civilian supporters into the streets to push back the Islamists and threatened them with heavy retribution from security forces as well.

Brotherhood's resilience
But the heavy turnout of pro-Morsi demonstrators, even at a time when the Brotherhood has been in effect decapitated, demonstrated the organisation's resilience in the face of the crackdown.

Yesterday’s attacks were the latest indication that some opponents of the government are also resorting to random or isolated acts of violence, suggesting Egypt could face a prolonged period of turmoil.

The location of the El-Tor bombing raised the possibility that radical Islamists who have been carrying out frequent attacks against targets in the northern Sinai had expanded their range into the southern Sinai, home to the Sharm el-Sheikh resort.

Aura of stability
The military-backed government that replaced Mr Morsi has tried to project an aura of stability in Egypt, hoping to lure back the tourists and investors who were scared off by several years of turmoil.

In a new sign of the military-appointed government’s increased embrace of Saudi Arabia, which supported the decision to depose Mr Morsi, the interim president, Adly Mansour, made his first trip abroad yesterday to Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

Saudi Arabia's ruling monarchy has provided the interim government with billions of dollars' worth of emergency grants and loans. – (New York Times service)