CAIRO, Dec 4, (Agencies): The State of Kuwait Ambassador to Egypt, Salem Ghesab Al-Zamanan, said on Friday no Kuwaitis were hurt as a result of the bombing that happened in Al-Giza. At least 16 people were killed and three were wounded in the attack in Al-Giza earlier.
The ambassador reminded the citizens that the diplomatic mission is reachable round the clock via telephone for any help they may need. Officials quickly denied speculation that the attacks had any terror connection.
Egypt has been battling a growing Islamic insurgency, and a branch of the extremist Islamic State group has claimed many large-scale attacks across the country. Interior Ministry spokesman Abu Bakr Abdel-Karim said police were looking for six people suspected in Friday’s attack, which came after two of them were banned from entering the club-and-eatery in Cairo’s Agouza district.
Police were hunting for the perpetrators of the pre-dawn attack on the El-Sayad club and restaurant. “Sixteen people were killed and three wounded in the fire that broke out in a nightclub in the Agouza district after Molotov cocktails were thrown at the establishment,” an interior ministry statement said. “The preliminary investigation conducted by the security services found that there was a dispute between employees and other people who then launched fire bombs at the nightclub in revenge,” it said. A security source said the attack followed an argument between employees and a group of youths who frequented the establishment.
A thick cloud of smoke was seen billowing from the club after the attack. Firefighters extinguished the blaze before it could spread to neighbouring buildings. Forensic investigators later inspected the charred entrance, taking photographs and collecting evidence in plastic bags. Police imposed a security cordon outside as a crowd of onlookers gathered.
The disaster is likely to renew concerns about safety standards in the country, where dozens have died in blazes in recent years. In July, 26 people were killed when a fire tore through a three-storey furniture factory north of Cairo. The nightclub had only one exit, which may have prevented some of the patrons from escaping. Amanager at the club told AFP that the wooden ceiling had caught fire and collapsed. While there was no indication of any jihadist link, the arson comes with Egyptian security forces on heightened alert following a series of attacks including in Cairo. Islamist militants have killed scores of policemen and soldiers, mostly in the Sinai Peninsula, since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Attacks have also targeted policemen and government buildings in the capital, several of them claimed by an Islamic State group affiliate.
They often claim that their attacks are in retaliation for the deaths of hundreds of pro-Islamists in a police crackdown, and the detention of thousands. The jihadists have also claimed responsibility for bombing a Russian passenger plane after it left the south Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Oct 31, killing all 224 people on board. They claimed they had smuggled a small bomb on board the plane, in revenge for Russian air strikes in Syria.
In other news, the Egyptian president on Thursday pledged to punish police officers who make mistakes amid mounting criticism of the force following the deaths of three people while in custody last month. Speaking at the police academy in Cairo, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi said “isolated incidents” do not reflect on the conduct of the whole police force, which is keeping the country safe. “When someone makes a mistake, we will punish him,” el-Sisi said, but added that “an individual’s mistake should not lead us to accuse an (entire) institution.” But the president acknowledged what he described as difficulties in maintaining the rule of law in Egypt as the country struggles with a rising Islamic insurgency, especially in the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, where a local Islamic State affiliate has claimed a series of attacks targeting the police and the military. The fighting in Sinai has surged since the army in 2013 — under el-Sisi, who was then army chief — overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
The IS branch in Sinai also claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian passenger plane on Oct 31 that killed everyone on board. Police brutality was one of the main grievances of protesters in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak but rights activists have reported a return of torture, abuses and arbitrary arrests since that uprising. Last month, riots erupted in the city of Luxor, 510 kms (320 miles) south of Cairo, after a man died in police custody. The family of the deceased, 45-year-old Talaat Shabeeb who was arrested for drug possession, said they saw bruises on his body and claimed he was beaten to death.
That prompted hundreds to take to the streets in protest, and in the ensuing violence, four policemen and a civilian were wounded. Also last month, a detained veterinarian died following a quarrel with a police officer in the port city of Ismailia. And in the Nile Delta province of Qalyoubiya, police are investigating accusations by a man’s family that he was tortured to death by a police officer.