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Bomb at Egypt police HQ kills at least 14

MANSOURA, Egypt -- A powerful car bomb tore through an Egyptian police headquarters Tuesday, killing at least 14 people, in one of the worst attacks since the army ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

The military-installed government said the bombing in Mansoura city, north of Cairo, was aimed at derailing Egypt's democratic transition, and immediately suggested Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood was behind it.

But the Islamist movement, which says it renounced violence decades ago, condemned the devastating bomb attack whose impact was felt as far as 20 kilometers (12 miles) away.

The explosion, which peeled off part of the building's facade, was the deadliest since Morsi's ouster in July outside the Sinai Peninsula, where militants have killed more than 100 policemen and soldiers.

Hours after the bombing, Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi labelled the Brotherhood a “terrorist” group, though he did not blame the organization for the blast.

The explosion ripped through the multi-storey police headquarters shortly after 1:00 am, killing at least 14 people and wounding more than 100, officials said.

“The majority of the casualties are from the police,” said Omar al-Shawatsi, the governor of Daqahleya, of which Mansoura is the capital.

Daqahleya security chief Sami El-Mihi was wounded and two of his aides were killed, security officials said.

Casualties were rushed to a nearby hospital, where one witness told AFP the blast had sent him flying through the air.

“I heard a massive explosion behind me, I flew through glass and wreckage and then lost consciousness,” he said from his stretcher, his head swathed in a bandages

The wreckage of an armored police car was nearby, while at least 10 civilian vehicles were damaged and a nearby building in rubble.

Interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim said the explosion was meant to intimidate voters ahead of a constitutional referendum next month billed as the first step in the democratic transition after Morsi's overthrow.

“This is an attempt to terrorize people because of the referendum. There is security plan, and this will not affect the referendum,” he told reporters after surveying the damage.

It was the second time the building has been targeted this year, after a pipe bomb outside the headquarters killed a policeman in July.

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Egyptian men inspect destruction in the Egyptian city of Mansoura, north of Cairo, following a powerful car bomb explosion on Tuesday, Dec. 24. (AFP)

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