A powerful blast tore through a police headquarters in an Egyptian Nile Delta city early Tuesday, killing 13 people, wounding more than 100 and leaving victims buried under rubble in the deadliest bombing yet in a months-long wave of violence blamed on Islamic militants.
Investigators were trying to determine whether the blast, soon after midnight in the city of Mansoura, was from a car bomb or from explosives planted around the building.
The explosion left a downtown street of the city strewn with piles of debris and charred cars.
Egypt has seen an escalating campaign of spectacular bombings and gun attacks, mainly against security forces, since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July and launched a fierce crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood.
Most have been centered in the Sinai Peninsula, where multiple militant groups operate, but the insurgency has been spreading to the heavily populated Delta and the capital, Cairo.
The interim government quickly blamed “dark terrorist forces” for Tuesday’s attack. A government spokesman went further and accused Morsi’s Brotherhood of orchestrating the bombing and called it a “terrorist organization”.
A government committee was meeting later Tuesday to review the group’s status. Social Solidarity Minister Ahmed el-Borai, who is among those in charge of the review, said declaring it a terrorist organization was inevitable, saying the Brotherhood has “no consideration for the blood of innocents”.
In a statement Tuesday, the Brotherhood condemned the bombing as a “direct attack on the unity of the Egyptian people”. It accused the government of “exploiting” the violence to target the group and “create further violence, chaos and instability”.
The attack on the police station in Mansoura, seen as a stronghold of Brotherhood support 110 kilometers north of Cairo, was the first major bombing in the Nile Delta.
The 1:10 a.m. blast struck at the security headquarters, collapsing an entire section and side wall of the five-floor building. Dozens of parked cars were incinerated, and several nearby buildings were damaged, including a bank and theater.
The dead included nine policemen, including two officers, and four civilians, and 101 people were wounded, Health Ministry spokesman Mohammed Fatahallah said. Among the injured were the city’s security chief - who lost an eye - and his assistant, the state news agency MENA reported. Most of the victims were policemen, many of whom were buried beneath the debris.
Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim toured the scene of the explosion at daybreak, pledging that the police will