Top News: Two Groups Claim Responsibility for Blast in Giza Apartment that Killed Ten

An affiliate of the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and another militant group in Egypt both claimed responsibility for a bombing that took place in Giza governorate’s Haram district on Thursday, killing at least ten. Neither claim could be verified. In a statement issued on Friday and published on Twitter accounts belonging to ISIS sympathizers, the Sinai State claimed that ten Egyptian police personnel were killed when they entered a “booby-trapped” house in Marioutiya Thursday night. An hour later, another militant group called Revolutionary Punishment claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released on Facebook. The group claimed that it lured police to the apartment at which point two of its members carried out a suicide bombing which killed a former state security police officer, among others. According to an official statement from Egypt’s prosecution, ten people, including seven policemen and three civilians, were killed in the explosion. The Interior Ministry issued a statement saying the bomb was planted by Muslim Brotherhood militants and went off when security forces tried to raid the building. [Ahram Online, AP, Aswat Masriya, Reuters, Mada Masr, 1/22/2016]


Chinese president visits Egyptian parliament
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Egypt’s House of Representatives on Thursday, becoming the first world leader to meet with the newly-elected Members of Parliament. During the visit, Xi said he wished to congratulate the Egyptian people, through its lawmakers, on completing the establishment of state institutions, according to a statement distributed to reporters. He added that China supports Egypt in its fight against terrorism. Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, who received Xi, said China’s stance in supporting peace has been unforgettable. The meeting, which was attended by the parliament’s secretary general, deputy speaker and a number of parliamentarians, ended with Abdel Aal presenting the Chinese president with the ‘medallion’ of the House of Representatives. [SIS, 1/22/2016]

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World Bank to loan Cairo $500 million to develop industrial zones in Upper Egypt
The World Bank will finance infrastructure development for industrial zones in Upper Egypt governorates of Qena and Sohag, Industry and Foreign Trade Minister Tarek Kabil said Thursday. The $500 million program aims to raise the economic and competitive capacity and efficiency of the two governorates, according to Minister of Local Development Ahmed Zaki Badr. It will also address challenges to institutional and administrative coordination and strengthen the role of information and communication technology in the governorates. According to state statistics body CAPMAS, Qena and Sohag are two of the poorest governorates in Egypt. [Ahram Online, DNE, 1/21/2016]

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Egyptian police raid Cairo homes as country prepares to mark 2011 uprising
Egyptian security officials say police have been questioning residents and searching apartments at more than 5,000 homes in central Cairo as a “precautionary measure” to prevent street protests on the upcoming anniversary of the January 25 Uprising. A senior security official told the Associated Press that the 10-day search campaign was based on surveillance and intelligence gathered over months and focusing on pro-democracy activists inside and outside the country, including foreigners. Some Cairo residents, however, have said the sweeping raids are not targeted, instead designed to round up anyone who fits the youthful demographic of the 2011 protesters. [The Guardian, 1/22/2016]

Police disperse Brotherhood marches in Menoufiya, Sharqiya
Police forces broke up three marches by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in three separate localities in Menoufiya on Friday. Protesters raised banners against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and others that read “Where is our bread and freedom?” referring to the January 25 revolution slogan “Bread, freedom and social justice.” Menoufiya Security Director Mohamed Masoud said in a statement Friday that security forces were on maximum alert to secure public and private facilities in the event of riots. Police also clashed with Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators in the governorate of Sharqiya, dispersing the protesters with tear gas. Police arrested five youth on charges of inciting violence and demonstrating without a permit. In a separate incident, police arrested five alleged Muslim Brotherhood members in Minya, Upper Egypt for “planning violence.” The group is accused of planning to commit violent acts during the January 25 anniversary, a security source said, adding that over $50,000, as well as documents with information pertaining to “terrorist operations” were seized. According to an unnamed source, a former member of parliament was reportedly among those arrested. [AMAY, Shorouk (Arabic), Cairo Post, 1/22/2016]   

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Mortar shell kills child, injures three civilians in North Sinai
A missile killed one child and injured three people, after it hit their home in the Rafah city of Northern Sinai on Friday, security and medical sources told Aswat Masriya. Unknown assailants “fired a mortar shell at a security point in Rafah but it fell on the house by mistake,” the security sources said.  Medical sources said the injured civilians are currently being hospitalized at al-Arish hospital. [Aswat Masriya, 1/22/2016]

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US trade delegation explores business and investment opportunities in agricultural and energy sectors
A trade delegation from the state of North Dakota is visiting Cairo for the first time for two days of meetings with prospective business partners and government officials. The delegation will explore possible expansion of US trade and investment opportunities with Egypt in certain fields. Two American agricultural companies, Healthy Oilseeds and JM Grain, are participating in the trade mission, led by the Commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, Doug Goehring, and the Executive Director of the North Dakota Trade Office, Dean Gorder. Mr. Goehring noted, “Egypt has tremendous business potential, and we are visiting Cairo to look into opportunities both for trade and potential future investments here.” [US Embassy, 1/21/2016]

Egypt denies reports of mediation efforts with Turkey to ease ‘crisis’
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry denied on Thursday that there was any kind of meditation in place to improve strained relations between Egypt and Turkey. In a meeting with diplomatic correspondents in Cairo on Thursday, Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said ties with Turkey are “going through a crisis” due to interference by Turkey in Egypt’s internal affairs. Abu Zeid added there would be no improvement in relations between Cairo and Ankara unless there was a “fundamental change” regarding the latter’s policies and views concerning the situation in Egypt. [Ahram Online, SIS, 1/22/2016]

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