Five Soldiers Killed As Violent Protests Continue In Egypt

There was more violence in Egypt Monday. Five soldiers were killed near the Suez Canal city of Ismailia. There are also reports of a grenade attack in Cairo and another bombing in the Sinai desert. The violence comes after Sunday's clashes between Islamist protesters and security forces that left more than 50 people dead. Some analysts believe Egypt may be on the cusp of a full-scale insurgency.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now to Egypt, where militants carried out a series of attacks against government targets today. Nine people were killed and dozens more were wounded. The incidents follow deadly clashes yesterday and add to concern that the political crisis, sparked by the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, could lead to an insurgency.

NPR's Leila Fadel sent this report.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: In a sleepy Cairo suburb, two rocket-propelled grenades slammed into a major satellite station. In South Sinai, a car bomb exploded outside a police station in an area with several tourist resorts. And in Ismailia, on the Suez Canal, six Egyptian soldiers were killed in a drive-by shooting on their convoy. Security officials are bracing for more.

Monday's bloodshed followed a day of clashes between supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and security forces, along with allied civilians.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

FADEL: The pro-Morsi crowds were met with tear gas and gunfire. The clashes left at least 53 dead. There were similar clashes today, in a city south of Cairo, leaving another four people dead. Morsi supporters called for more protests tomorrow. A low-level insurgency is already raging in the Sinai Peninsula, where the police and army come under near-daily attack by militant groups. And now, that type of violence seems to be spreading to the rest of the country.

In September, the minister of interior survived an assassination attempt in Cairo. Today's attacks in and around the capital set off more alarm bells.

SAMER SHEHATA: Egypt's future is Egypt's past.

FADEL: Samer Shehata is an Egypt expert and political scientist at the University of Oklahoma.

SHEHATA: What we're likely to see in the coming period is what Egypt witnessed in the 1990s - sporadic violent episodes, terrorist attacks, some parts of the country riddled with violence and so on. That's likely to be Egypt's future.

FADEL: But he says the militant attacks in Sinai work against the moderate Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood.

SHEHATA: It muddies the situation. It's no longer security forces killing and shooting on unarmed civilians protesting. It is, all of a sudden, an insurgency, terrorism. And that's the discourse that the regime has been using.

FADEL: Shehata says heavy-handed security tactics with no moves toward political reconciliation will only make things worse. So far, the Brotherhood insists that it rejects all forms of violence. But its leaders can only control the base for so long, says Shadi Hamid, an Egypt expert at the Brookings Doha Center.

SHADI HAMID: When you have hundreds of people killed, that creates a kind of desire for revenge in certain areas of the country.

FADEL: And Hamid says most Morsi supporters now have friends or family members who have either been killed, wounded or detained over the past three months.

Leila Fadel, NPR News, Cairo.

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