Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab pledged to “amputate the arm of terror” following an attack by gunmen that killed six soldiers on the outskirts of Cairo on Saturday.
Egypt’s military-backed interim government accused the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization of carrying out the attack, which targeted a military checkpoint in the Shubra El-Kheima suburb. Authorities said two bombs were also at the site of the attack, but were successfully defused.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, interior ministry spokesperson Brig. Hani Abdellatif confirmed that investigations are ongoing into the attack and that the exact number of the perpetrators is as yet unknown.
Abdellatif said the attack was likely in retaliation for the death of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis founder Mohamed El-Sayed Mansour, also known as Abu Obeida, who was killed in a shootout with police earlier this week. Abu Obeida was the main suspect in a deadly attack on a Cairo security headquarters in January. An Egyptian Interior Ministry statement described him as one of the most dangerous terrorists in the country.
The Sinai-based group has claimed responsibility for several attacks on military facilities across Egypt over the past year. However, Egypt’s military view the organization as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood.
“An armed group belonging to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood attacked a military police checkpoint,” Egypt’s military said of Saturday’s attack.
Prime Minister Mahlab condemned the attack, saying: “The government will exert every necessary effort to rapidly round up the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
He said: “The state is facing a fierce, cowardly and trained opponent that receives funding . . . to commit terrorist acts.”
He added that security plans were being reviewed on a regular basis “as the terrorist groups are radically shifting their operations.”
Several hundred soldiers in Egypt have died in attacks on military facilities since the ouster of former Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, on July 3, 2013.
This is the second attack on the army in two days, after a military convoy was targeted in Cairo on Thursday. One officer was killed and three were injured during the attack.