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Jihadist group claims Egypt police bombing

CAIRO--An Al-Qaeda-inspired group based in Egypt's Sinai on Wednesday claimed a suicide car bombing of a police headquarters that killed 15 people, the deadliest attack since Mohamed Morsi's overthrow.

The brazen assault north of Cairo underscored the military's challenge to contain Sinai militants, who have killed more than 100 soldiers and police in a wave of attacks since the army ousted the Islamist president on July 3.

“Your brothers in Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, with the grace of God, were able to target the Daqhaleya police headquarters,” the group said of Tuesday's attack, in a statement posted on jihadist forums.

The group said the attack in the provincial capital Mansoura was carried out by a suicide bomber identified as “Abu Maryam.”

Authorities say there are links between the Sinai jihadists and Morsi's more moderate Muslim Brotherhood movement, but have offered no proof. The Brotherhood publicly renounced violence decades ago and condemned Tuesday's attack.

Morsi and top Brotherhood leaders, imprisoned in a crackdown following his overthrow, are charged with colluding with militant groups to launch attacks.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, whose name means “Partisans of Jerusalem” in English, had previously claimed credit for bombings in Sinai and the attempted assassination by a suicide car bomber of interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in Cairo in September.

The group warned soldiers and police to abandon their posts “to preserve their religion and lives.”

It said it carried out the attack in response to the “apostate regime's war on Islamic sharia, its shedding of Muslim blood and violation of our women's and sisters' honour.”

An interior ministry official told AFP on Wednesday investigators were still trying to identify the suicide bomber through human remains found at the scene of the blast, which tore down part of the police headquarters facade.

The military has sent tanks to the Sinai peninsula to crush the militants, with limited success so far.

The sparsely populated desert and mountain region has presented a challenge to the army, which is unaccustomed to fighting against a sustained militant campaign.

Two soldiers were shot dead last week in a botched attempt to arrest Ansar Beit al-Maqdis leader Shadi al-Menei, the military said. Menei escaped.

But the military says it has killed 184 “terrorists” in north Sinai, which borders the Palestinian Gaza Strip and Israel, since Morsi's overthrow.

On Wednesday, the army said it had foiled an attempt by a member of the Palestinian Hamas movement to blow up a security installation in Sinai.

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Egyptians attend the funeral of a dozen policeman and a civilian killed from an explosion at a police headquarters, in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, 110 kilometers north of Cairo, Egypt on Tuesday, Dec. 24. (AP)

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