Egypt holds military funeral for Sinai victims

Updated: 2012-08-08 14:04


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Egypt holds military funeral for Sinai victims

Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi (C) shakes hand with an Egyptian soldier, whom was injured when gunmen attacked a border station between Egypt and Israel, at a hospital in Cairo August 7, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

CAIRO - A funeral scene for the 16 Egyptian soldiers killed near the border with Israel Sunday turned into a political theater for supporters and opponents of the current power in Egypt amid cries of the martyr's families.

The deadly attack happened immediately after Sunday's sunset prayer during Iftar, or fast-breaking meal, when the troops were suddenly attacked by masked gunmen. Islamist Jihadist militants were responsible for the attack, official sources told Xinhua.

Outside Al Rashdan military mosque in Nasr city, east Cairo, ambulances carried the bodies and the cries of the martyears' families were terribly loud. The victims will be transferred by a helicopter after the funeral and be buried in their villages.

Chairman of Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces Hussein Tantawi and some senior officials attended the funeral.

Prime Minister Hesham Qandil attended pray on the victims inside the mosque, but did not join the military funeral. He left the mosque escorted by the military forces who protected him from the shoes thrown by the crowds. Angry people accused him of killing the soldiers by putting them on the borders which lacks suitable security measures.

Under blazing heat outside, thousands of people thronged to the military funeral.

President Mohamed Morsi failed to attend the funeral due to the concern that his attendance would entail intensive security measures that would cause inconvenience to other people, the president's spokesman Yasser Ali said.

Several people carried slogans against the president, accusing Hamas of being responsible for the deadly assault over the soldiers. They blamed the cooperation between Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) for opening the crossing with Palestinians, chanting "this is the honeymoon between Hamas and MB."

The military police established a human barrier between the pro- and anti-MB to prevent verbal swearwords to turn into clashes.

Political activists and national groups asked for maintaining Egypt's full control over Sinai. Meanwhile, other national movements urged the president to raise the military existence and not involving the Palestinians in the crisis.

Emad Abdel Ghafour, chief of the Salafist Nour party called for exploring urgent solutions for the problems in Sinai.

Moustafa Mahdy, brother to one of the murderers told Xinhua reporter, "My brother, 20 years old, called my mother several days ago and promised to spend the last week of Ramadan and Iftar holiday with us. He asked her to prepare his preferable food".

"My brother spent one year in the military service to guard the Egyptian borders," he said, adding that his brother described the situation in Sinai as dangerous, after the revolution in particular.

"How the murderers could defend themselves when the government doesn't give them the right to use weapons," one  of the victim's cousin, Alaa Abdel Rehim told Xinhua, adding "the government should give us the weapons and we can avenge our sons and fight on the borders.

"Our son were killed in a holy month during their Iftar, and they even didn't have the chance to defend themselves," said Moneim's mother.

She repeated Morsi's statement on Monday that "Egyptians won't wait long to see the reaction to these attacks of terrorists," added "I hope his promise comes true soon".