Egypt’s once-feared police on guard against ‘unseen enemy’

CAIRO : Colonel Amr has forbidden his family to discuss his police work; with militants relentlessly targeting Egypt’s security forces he remains perpetually on guard against what he says is “an unseen enemy”, reports AFP.
“Every day one of our colleagues becomes a martyr,” says Colonel Amr, a stout man in his 40s.
Since the military deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on July 3, militants have increasingly singled out members of Egypt’s once-feared security forces for attack.
Official figures show that more than 500 people-mostly policemen and soldiers-have been killed in bombing and shooting assaults by militants since that date.
The attacks, many of them brazenly in broad daylight, have been carried out in the restive northern Sinai, where an Islamist militancy is growing rapidly, as well as in the Nile Delta and in the capital Cairo. The killings are generally claimed by jihadist groups who say they are in retaliation for a brutal police crackdown on Morsi’s supporters, which has left more than 1,400 people dead.
As with a number of police officers interviewed by AFP Amr, who has been in service for 25 years, refused to disclose personal details and agreed to reveal only his first name.
Policemen have been living in “anxiety and tension” since the ouster of Morsi, he says, adding that his police station was in central Cairo, an area that has witnessed several attacks in the past few months. Egypt’s police, feared for decades, had faced massive public anger during the uprising against veteran president Hosni Mubarak in early 2011.
It managed to rehabilitate itself in the eyes of the public by pursuing supporters of the unpopular Morsi in the wake of his ouster, but in doing so incurred the wrath of militants.
Jihadist groups such as the Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis have claimed most of the attacks against the security forces. Amr says the toughest part “is fighting an unseen enemy whose strength we don’t know”.
The authorities blame Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood for the attacks and have designated it as a “terrorist group”.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which swept all elections since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, denies this and regularly condemns attacks targeting security forces. Amr is not alone in his caution-his entire unit, based in a police post on the banks of the Nile, has become more vigilant.