By HAMZA HENDAWI
CAIRO — A suicide car bomb hit a bus convoy of off-duty Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, killing 11 and wounding 37, in the latest of a stepped-up wave of attacks blamed on Islamic militants sympathetic to ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
The mounting insurgency in the restive Sinai has sent security and intelligence agencies scrambling for new tactics to thwart future attacks and protect themselves amid signs of the violence creeping into other parts of Egypt, particularly the capital, Cairo.
Among the attacks that have raised alarm was the killing of a senior security officer who monitors Islamist groups, gunned down in his Cairo neighborhood Sunday night. At dawn Wednesday, assailants threw a grenade at a police checkpoint in a northern Cairo suburb, injuring four policemen, according to security officials. The assailants fled the scene, said the officials.
The violence prompted a shakeup within security agencies’ ranks, including a hunt for possible Islamist “moles” amid officials’ suspicions Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood is linked to the violence — an accusation the group denies.
For several months, the military has carried out intensified raids in the towns and villages of northern Sinai, hunting for militants.
In Wednesday’s attack, a convoy of four army buses was transporting soldiers taking battlefield breaks along a main road linking the provincial capital el-Arish with the town of Rafah, on the border with Gaza. The soldiers in the convoy belonged to the 2nd Field Army, which is doing most of the fighting in the Sinai anti-militant campaign.
An explosives-laded car with two people in it rammed into the lead bus and exploded, military spokesman Mohammed Ahmed Ali said in a statement.