A roadside bomb exploded in Cairo Thursday morning, damaging a bus and injuring five people.
The explosives were planted outside the girls’ dormitories of Al-Azhar University, in the suburb of Nasr City, in an area that has recently witnessed repeated clashes between security forces and student protesters. The police defused other explosives in the area, which was sealed off shortly after the blast went off around 9 am.
Head of the Central Department for Emergency Care said that all five casualties, including one in critical condition, were sent to the Medical Insurance Hospital in Nasr City.
Independent newspaper Al-Shorouk reported that the injured were on a bus, which was passing by when the bomb exploded. The windows of the red public transport bus were blown out and shattered glass lay strewn on the ground.
“I was walking past the university building when I felt the earth shaking underneath me,” said Abdel Salam Rohayyem, a 21-year-old student. “I ran towards the site and saw two people lying on the ground and one inside the bus. One was covered with blood and another had bones protruding from one of his legs.”
Head of Civil Defense General Mamdooh Abdel Qader said that security forces and a bomb squad located two other bombs in Nasr City near King Fahd School in Al-Qazeerah al-Wusta, one of which was planted under a billboard to be detonated by remote control.
“There were two bombs planted, one of which was defused,” Yehia al-Iraqi, head of the Eastern District Department at the Interior Ministry, told reporters at the site. “The second was meant to target police coming to the scene. We are now surveying the area for other possible explosives, and we have started to hunt down the perpetrators.”
Security forces closed the entire area to look for more undetonated bombs. Al-Shorouk said that the bomb was locally manufactured.
The attack occurred one day after the Egyptian government officially designated the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization,” and a few days after 13 people were killed and 140 others were wounded in an explosion at a police building in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, which the government blamed the Brotherhood for, despite Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claiming responsibility for it.
Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi said the Islamist group had “revealed its true ugly face as a terrorist organization.” The Brotherhood issued an official statement on Tuesday denouncing the attack and has sought to distance itself from such acts.
Hassan Mabrouk, a 47-year-old car dealer who was near the explosion site when it happened, said the decision to list the organization as a “terrorist” group came too late. “They have perpetrated several attacks and organized non-stop demonstrations. The situation we are living in now, is this not terrorism? It is them who perpetrated these attacks because they are now the main enemies of the country.”
“Of course, it’s the Muslim Brotherhood. Who else could it be?” shouted an angry woman who was surrounded by a crowd. Another woman yelled angrily, “This university should be burnt down. It is breeding terrorists.” A scuffle broke out between a woman accusing the Brotherhood of orchestrating the attack and a man sympathetic to the group. He was led away from the scene by police.
A group of Al-Azhar students looked on angrily, and one of them said, “Is this democracy when those who have an opposite opinion are not given a chance to express it?”
Mohamed Ibrahim, a 21-year-old student at Al-Azhar University, said, “The Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization. Do you think whoever planted the bomb was wearing a badge labeled ‘Muslim brotherhood?’ If they present one piece of evidence that they perpetrated the attacks, I will be convinced. But people are making statements without any proof.”
Mahmoud Nabawi, media spokesperson for the Tamarod (Rebel) Movement, which led the campaign to oust former president Mohamed Morsi from power in June, said, following the bombing, that categorizing the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization was the right thing to do. He added, “We [the Egyptian people] have to prove to the world that we are capable of ending terrorism.”
Since the bloody dispersal of a sit-in in Rabea Square in August, Brotherhood members and supporters have been rounded up and the group declared “outlawed” by a court order. Government officials and the media have consistently labeled the group and its supporters “terrorists,” but the government has so far not presented any evidence linking the group to the attacks.
“The State Security Investigations Department are not doing their job properly by showing us the truth and telling us who the perpetrators of these attacks are. They should show us who they arrest and make them confess in public,” Gamal Abdallah, a 54-year-old passerby, said.
The general prosecution asked all citizens with any information about the bombing or the assailants to come forward. State-owned Al-Ahram reported that General Prosecutor Hesham Barakat had started an investigation.