Egypt security forces battle Islamists in Cairo outskirts

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
September 19, 2013

Egyptian forces try to regain control of Islamist town, Greek anti-racism rapper stabbed to death, and NATO investigates civilian drone strike casualties. Today is Thursday, September 19, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

Police officers stand in front of a police station damaged after being set ablaze last month by supporters of former president Mohamed Mursi in Kerdasa, a town 9 miles from Cairo, September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Government grapples for control. Egyptian security forces clashed with Islamist militants in Kerdasa, a town 9 miles outside of Cairo, in an attempt to regain control of the area. Islamists seized the town last month in an attack that killed 11 police officers after police killed hundreds of pro-Mursi supporters in Cairo protest camps:

MENA state news agency said 65 people had been arrested so far, quoting a security source. Dozens of weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, had been seized, security sources said. At the start of the raid, security forces in body armor and armed with automatic rifles fanned out in the town. Army checkpoints were set up at its entrances and militants set fire to tires to obstruct the operation.

This morning’s operation was the army-backed government’s second attempt this week to regain control of the area. On Tuesday, gunmen killed a military officer and a soldier in the area. Egypt has been in a state of emergency since the August 14 violence, and officials have arrested at least 2,000 Egyptians, most of them Mursi supporters, since he was deposed by the military in July.

Riot police stand guard outside a police station during clashes between police and angry anti-fascist protesters following the killing of anti-racism rapper Pavlos “Killah P” Fissas, 35, by a man who sympathized with the far-right Golden Dawn group, in an Athens suburb on September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

RIP, Killah P. More than 2,000 mourners gathered to grieve the death of a Greek anti-racism rapper who was stabbed to death by a Golden Dawn supporter. The far-right party uses a swastika-like symbol and campaigns on a staunch anti-immigrant, anti-corruption platform:

“Pigs! Fascists! Murderers!” mourners chanted as relatives carried [Pavlos] Fissas’s white coffin into a graveyard on a hill overlooking the working-class Keratsini suburb where he was stabbed. As others sang his songs, one man shouted: “Immortal!” Fissas, who went by the stage name Killah P, was stabbed twice in the heart and chest on Tuesday night in a brawl after a soccer match shown in a cafe. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday called for calm during what he said was an “extremely critical time” for Greece. “This government is determined to not allow descendents of Nazis to poison society, to commit crimes, to terrorize and to undermine the foundations of a country that gave birth to democracy,” Samaras said in a televised address to the nation.

On Wednesday, rallies prompted by Fissas’s death turned violent. Golden Dawn holds 18 parliamentary seats. Human rights groups have accused the group of being implicated in attacks on immigrants.

Drone diligence. NATO will investigate claims that a drone strike in Afghanistan killed eight women and children:

The attack took place on September 7 in the eastern province of Kunar. NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) initially said “10 enemy forces” had been killed and it had no reports of any civilian casualties. “When allegations arose of civilian fatalities as a result of this mission, ISAF initiated an investigation,” said a force spokeswoman, Colonel Jane Crichton. “The air strike targeted insurgents riding in a truck. There were no signs of civilians in the vicinity,” Crichton said. But Karzai had strongly condemned the attack from the outset. He called it an attack on women and children which was “against all internationally agreed principles.”

Civilian casualties, a source of tension between Karzai and his foreign allies, were on the rise in the first half of 2013.

Nota Bene: Looting breaks out in Acapulco, where extreme flooding has killed at least 80 people.

Standouts:

Written retaliation - Senator John McCain pens anti-Putin op-ed. (Pravda)

Rodman effect? - Two young rappers want to film a music video in North Korea. (Washington Post)

Too young to strut - France considers banning child beauty pageants. (BBC)

Literary kitty - A stray cat is one Russian library’s new assistant librarian. (The Atlantic Cities)

Freedom Friday - An underground Eritrean group launches an illicit newspaper. (The Guardian)

From the File:

  • Russia says it has no plans to destroy Syrian chemical weapons on own soil.
  • EU police officer shot dead in Kosovo, testing fragile peace accord.
  • Days before death, Pakistani ganglord vowed to protect Karachi turf.
  • Passenger train, bus collide in Canada’s capital, killing six.
  • Blackout hits large parts of Yemen after attack on power lines.
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