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Wave of deadly attacks in Egypt kills 8

Published: Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 7:31 a.m. CDT

CAIRO — A drive-by shooting killed six Egyptian soldiers east of Cairo on Monday, shortly after a massive explosion, possibly from a car bomb, hit the security headquarters in a town near the area's tourist resorts in southern Sinai, killing at least two and wounding dozens.

Also Monday, at least two rocket propelled grenades slammed into a compound housing the country's major satellite earth station in a southern Cairo suburb, security officials said.

The attacks came a day after dozens were killed when holiday celebrations marking the start of the 1973 Mideast war turned into deadly clashes across Egypt, though it was not immediately clear if Monday's violence was related.

The dawn attack on the earth station in the leafy suburb of Maadi in Cairo caused only minor damage to one of the giant satellite dishes in the complex. But its significance was far wider, in part because it struck at the heart of the nation's telecommunications center, making it the most serious attack in the capital since last month's assassination attempt against the country's interior minister outside his home in eastern Cairo.

The officials said the six soldiers were on patrol in a pickup truck when masked gunmen in another vehicle opened fire at them in an area west of the Suez Canal city of Ismailia. The six included an officer, a lieutenant, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The explosion at the security headquarter in the town of el-Tor killed two people and wounded nearly 50, signaling what could be the spread of attacks by Islamic militants, already active in northern Sinai. Daily attacks against security forces in the volatile northern Sinai Peninsula have increasingly resembled a full-fledged insurgency. But the region of southern Sinai, which includes the popular diving resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, has been mostly quiet since a series of deadly attacks in 2005 and 2006.

The four-story building sustained serious damage and the officials said the blast was likely caused by a car bomb detonated by remote control.

Monday's attacks come a day after at least 51 people were killed in clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi across much of Egypt.

At least 40 of those killed were in Cairo, where some neighborhoods saw hours of pitched street battles between police and protesters. The fighting left streets looking like combat zones, with fires burning, black smoke rising and the air thick with tear gas.

Sunday's death toll and Monday's attacks constituted the latest chapter in the turmoil roiling Egypt since the ouster in February 2011 of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The latest violence is certain to set back efforts by the interim, military-backed government to revive the economy, especially the vital tourism sector, and bring order to the streets of Cairo, where crime and lawlessness have been rife.

Morsi was Egypt's first civilian and first freely elected president, succeeding four since the early 1950s who hailed from a military background. But after a year in office, Morsi was faced by massive protests demanding his ouster, accusing his Muslim Brotherhood of taking over power — and on July 3, military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi removed him.

The military is now back as the real source of power in Egypt, and state and independent media have been depicting it as the country's savior — with growing calls for el-Sissi to run in the presidential election due early next year.

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