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Suicide bombers strike Egypt's Sinai, bomb kills one in Cairo

One Egyptian soldier was killed and at least seven more people wounded in two suicide attacks in South Sinai on Friday and a policeman died in a Cairo bomb attack, official sources said, in the latest round of violence ahead of elections due in May.

Militant attacks in Egypt have spiraled since the army deposed President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood last July after mass protests. Former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to win presidential elections on May 26 and 27.

A suicide attack in El-Tur, a town on the main road between Cairo and the tourist resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, killed a soldier and the bomber. Three policemen and another soldier were injured, according to an Interior Ministry statement posted on Facebook.

Four Egyptians were wounded in the second attack, further south on the road between El-Tur and Sharm El-Sheikh, the Interior Ministry and security sources said.

A spokesman for the governorate of South Sinai province speaking with a private television channel identified the wounded as employees of a tourism company. The Interior Ministry referred to them as factory workers.

A third bomb killed one policeman at a traffic security post near a courthouse in Cairo, security sources said. At least four other policemen were wounded, the Interior Ministry said.

The army has been waging a campaign against armed Islamist groups in North Sinai. The influence of such groups expanded in the area after the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak from the presidency. Last month the Egyptian military said it had gained complete control of the Sinai Peninsula.

A recent Reuters investigation found that a few hundred militants - a mix of Egyptian Islamists, foreign fighters and disgruntled youth - are successfully playing a cat-and-mouse game with Egypt's army and are nowhere near defeat.

While most of the recent attacks have targeted the security forces, three South Koreans were killed in February when a bomb hit a tourist bus in South Sinai near a border crossing with Israel.

Tourists are an important source of foreign currency for Egypt's economy but tourist numbers have dwindled over more than three years of political turmoil. Germany's foreign ministry currently advises against travel to the Sinai Peninsula.

The cabinet said in a statement "cowardly attacks" such as the ones on Friday would only increase the security forces' commitment to fight terrorism and would not disrupt Egypt's political transition.

Parliamentary elections are due to be held within the coming months.

Underlining political tensions, an Egyptian court sentenced the leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and 682 supporters to death earlier this week, intensifying a crackdown on the movement and drawing Western criticism.

The European Union has described the verdict as a breach of international human rights law.

[Source: By Tom Perry and Shadia Nasralla, Reuters, Cairo, 02May14]

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Crisis in Egypt
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