Top News: Thirteen Injured in Cairo Bomb Attack

A strong blast hit a busy district in central Cairo on Tuesday night, leaving thirteen injured, three of whom are in critical condition. A senior security official said the explosion was caused by a homemade bomb placed near a courthouse.

The site of the attack is a busy district and near a subway station. It was initially thought a bomb had been planted in a private car parked in the area but investigations revealed an improvised explosive device was behind the explosion, which took place near the vehicle. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. By Wednesday morning, traffic had resumed as normal near the explosion. 




Thirteen injured in Cairo bomb attack
A strong blast hit a busy district in central Cairo on Tuesday night, leaving thirteen injured, three of whom are in critical condition. A senior security official said the explosion was caused by a homemade bomb placed near a courthouse. The site of the attack is a busy district and near a subway station. It was initially thought a bomb had been planted in a private car parked in the area but investigations revealed an improvised explosive device was behind the explosion, which took place near the vehicle. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. By Wednesday morning, traffic had resumed as normal near the explosion. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, AP, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, Reuters, 10/15/2014]

Egypt participates in ISIS strategy meeting in Washington
Defense chiefs from around the world gathered at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Tuesday to meet with US President Barack Obama to discuss the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) threat. The meeting will discuss a strategy to “degrade and destroy” the extremist militant group. More than twenty nations, including Egypt, were represented in the meeting, as part of the US’ “broad international coalition” to confront the group. The nations represented at the meeting besides Egypt and the US were Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. [DNE, 10/15/2014]

EU raises financial aid to Egypt to 600 million euros
During talks to approve the next three years European Union’s aid budget, the ceiling for financial aid to Egypt was raised from 450 million euros to 600 million euros. For the first time since the partnership was created the aid will be paid to Egypt in a lump sum. [The Cairo Post, 10/14/2014]

Human rights groups condemn use of force by riot police in campuses
Human Rights Watch (HRW), among other human rights organizations, demanded the Egyptian authorities release university students arrested since the start of the academic year. Six civil society and human rights organizations condemned, in a joint statement released on Tuesday, the latest storming of Alexandria University campus and the organized campaign to arrest members of the Students Against Coup (SAC) group and other activists. Two policemen were wounded on Tuesday in clashes between students who “belong to the Muslim Brotherhood” and the security forces inside Alexandria University, said an interior ministry statement, where thirty-seven students were arrested. SAC spokesperson Youssef Saleheen claimed police used live ammunition, and tried to raid buildings inside the Alexandria University campus. [DNE, Mada Masr, 10/15/2014]


Tripoli rulers take over Libyan government and oil company websites
The competing government set up in Tripoli has taken over websites of the state administration and the national oil company, adding to confusion over who is running Libya. With the official government and parliament now in Tobruk, the Misrata militias control their websites, replacing photos of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni with that of Omar al-Hassi. After meeting with the Libyan foreign minister, US Secretary of State John Kerry pledged continued support to Libya’s official government and reiterated his opposition to outside intervention in the country. [Reuters, 10/14/2014]

Protesters threaten to close another oilfield in eastern Libya
Protesters blocking Libya’s Abu Attifel oilfield have threatened to close another field to force the state-run National Oil Corporation (NOC) to hire hundreds of local people, according to a spokesman for the protesters. Locals demanding jobs have closed the oilfield, a joint venture between Italian oil major Eni and the NOC, for a year. Protesters have closed two other fields and plan to shut down another if the NOC does not meet their demands by Thursday. The closures have lowered the country’s oil output to less than 900,000 bpd. [Reuters, 10/14/2014]

Benghazi pounded by heavy flashes and airstrikes
Forces led by former general Khalifa Haftar have mounted a major offensive on Islamist groups in Benghazi, with reports of widespread fighting. Earlier Haftar had warned of the assault, vowing to “liberate” the eastern city. Operation Dignity had called on its supporters for help in arresting those collaborating with the Islamist coalition. Residents were reportedly panic buying and there were long petrol queues in anticipation of the violence. According to local and social media, there were air strikes and shelling in several areas of the city, with widespread checkpoints and road closures. [Libya Monitor (subscription), 10/15/2014]

UN rights chief says Libyan civil society under threat
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has warned that civil society, bloggers, and professionals in Libya face a “climate of fear” created by warring militias, saying that his agency has received numerous reports of assaults targeting rights advocates in Libya. In a statement, the high commissioner said that the attacks amount to “war crimes,” though neither the United Nations nor the International Criminal Court has sanctioned or indicted anyone. He said perpetrators benefit from “total impunity” for such attacks and threaten Libya’s few independent voices. [AP, Libya Herald, 10/14/2014]


US-led air strikes intensify as Syria conflict destabilizes Turkey
US-led forces have sharply intensified air strikes in the past two days against Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or Islamic State) fighters slowing the group’s rapid expansion into Kobani (Ayn al-Arab in Arabic). US-led aircraft hammered ISIS positions, conducting twenty-one bombing raids near Kobane on Monday and Tuesday. Sources indicated that at least thirty-two ISIS fighters had been killed in direct hits coordinated by the main Kurdish armed group, the YPG, highlighting greater coordination between ground forces and US-led forces. [Reuters, Naharnet, 10/15/2014]

Gunmen assassinate Syrian MP in Hama
Unidentified gunmen assassinated Syrian Member of Parliament Waris al-Yunis in the central province of Hama, a parliamentary source said on Wednesday. Yunis was a representative from the coastal province of Tartus, a stronghold of support for President Bashar Assad, and a bastion of Assad’s Alawite minority. British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Yunis was also a commander in the pro-regime National Defense Force militia fighting alongside government forces in Hama province. [Naharnet, 10/15/2014]

Qatar-backed candidate reelected Syrian opposition PM
Syria’s main opposition National Coalition has reelected Qatar-backed candidate Ahmad Tohme as its prime minister after five days of meetings in Istanbul. His reelection comes amid continued jostling between Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the role of primary supporter of the Syrian opposition. Despite ongoing tensions between the two rival supporters, Tohme eventually secured sixty-three votes from the sixty-five coalition members. [Naharnet, 10/15/2014]

Malaysian authorities apprehend ISIS recruits headed for Syria
Malaysian authorities on Wednesday announced the arrest of thirteen Malaysian citizens suspected of having links to the Islamic State in Iraq and al-sham (ISIS or the Islamic State) and planning to join the conflict in Syria. Malaysia has arrested thirty-six citizens suspected of militancy since April this year and authorities believe that at least thirty are already in Syria and Iraq, fighting for different groups allied to the militant group. [Reuters, 10/15/2014]


Twelve arrested after authorities foil a car-bomb assassination plot in Tunis
Tunisian security forces have arrested a group of Islamist militants, including two women, that planned to carry out attacks in Tunis, less than two weeks before parliamentary elections. An Interior Ministry spokesman indicated that those arrested were linked to the banned group Ansar al-Sharia and were suspected of planning to detonate a car bomb in order to assassinate liberal politician Ahmed Nejib Chebbi of the Jomhouri Party. [TAP, Reuters, AP, 10/14/2014]

Senior Ansar al-Sharia leaders apprehended
The interior ministry on Tuesday announced the arrest of senior Ansar al-Sharia leaders and the dismantling of several groups providing logistical, financial and communication support to the banned terrorist group and its affiliate, the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade. Twelve total suspects were arraigned before a Tunisian judge on Monday under terrorism charges terrorism charges, with an additional four released. [TAP, All Africa, 10/14/2014]

Tunisia and Belgium finalize political consultation agreement
Tunisia and Belgium on Monday signed an agreement that will facilitate greater cooperation and consultation between the Foreign Ministries of both countries. A statement released after the signing of the agreement in Brussels expressed the wishes of both countries to strengthen bilateral ties around regional and international issues. [TAP, 10/14/2014]


Herak movement demands exit of northern workers, foreign oil companies
The southern Herak movement presented an ultimatum to both the government in Sana’a and oil companies on Wednesday, demanding that the government evacuate all soldiers and civil servants by November 30 and that all foreign firms producing oil and natural gas in the region halt exports immediately. These pronouncements came a day after southerners marked the anniversary of the October 14 revolution against the British. In its statement, Herak said, “The state of the south is coming and no power can stop us from achieving this.” Herak asked all oil and gas companies to halt exports until movement-appointed technicians can ensure revenues are placed in banks under the name of a new southern state. It also demanded all government institutions in the south be handed over to southern officials. [Reuters, Aden al-Ghad (Arabic) 10/15/2014]

Clashes between al-Qaeda and Houthis leave twelve dead
Houthi and al-Qaeda militants clashed in the Rida district in Bayda province late Tuesday, leaving five Houthis, six al-Qaeda militants, and one civilian dead. For over a month, the Houthis and al-Qaeda have clashed regularly in Bayda province, which has a strong al-Qaeda presence, despite an initiative set in place by local leaders to end violence between Houthi militants and al-Qaeda supporters in Rida in September. Al-Qaeda has promised to challenge the increasing Houthi presence in the region. [Naharnet, 10/15/2014]

US offers $45 million reward for Yemeni al-Qaeda leaders
The United States offered rewards totalling $45 million for information on the leadership of al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) as part of the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program. The State Department identified Nasir al-Wuhayshi as AQAP’s leader, promising $10 million for information leading to his capture and $5 million for seven other leaders. Meanwhile, the United States continued its drone campaign against AQAP on Wednesday, as local witnesses said it carried out a strike on a target on the outskirts of Jul al-Rida in Shabwah province. [Naharnet, 10/15/2014]


Iraqi MP killed in Baghdad suicide attack as ISIS advance stalls in Saladin
An Iraqi MP and prominent militia leader was one of at least twenty-one people killed on Tuesday in a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-sham (ISIS or Islamic State). Sources noted that the MP, also a commander in the Shiite Badr militia, was killed in the Kadhimiya area of Baghdad, marking the third suicide bombing attack in the Shia dominated area in four days. The militant group expanded its control in Anbar province after taking a third Iraqi military base in the town of Hit over the weekend. Sources on Tuesday, however, indicated that the group’s advance had stalled after entering the towns of Dhuluiya and Qada in Saladin province. [Jordan Times, Asharq al-Awsat, 10/15/2014]

US pledges continued humanitarian support for Syrian refugees in Lebanon
US President Barack Obama vowed to continue his country’s humanitarian assistance to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to help those countries bear the burden imposed by the large influx of Syrian refugees. The announcement came on Tuesday after military leaders from more than twenty countries met in Washington to discuss possible amendments to the US-led global effort to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or Islamic State). There are currently more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, in a country of just four million, many of them living in informal tented settlements on farmland or empty fields in parts of the country. [Naharnet, 10/15/2014]

Amnesty International indicts Iraq for Shia reprisals on Sunni residents
Amnesty international on Wednesday released a damning report implicating the Iraqi government and its security forces for facilitating violent anti-ISIS reprisals by Shia militias on Sunni residents in several Iraqi cities. The report detailed the Iraqi government’s “tacit consent” and in some instances “active coordination and joint participation” in the abduction, and extra-judicial killings of Sunni residents in Baghdad, Samarra, and Kirkuk. The Amnesty report, Absolute Impunity: Militia Rule in Iraq, noted that scores of unidentified bodies had been discovered handcuffed and with gunshot wounds, indicating a pattern of deliberate killings. Amnesty representatives called on the Iraqi government, which has armed and encouraged militias including the Badr brigades and the Mehdi army, to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or Islamic State), to hold them to account. [Al-Jazeera, 10/15/2014]