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Cairo, Istanbul bombings: Need for concerted effort to combat terror

"Recent bombings at the Egyptian capital Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral and outside an Istanbul football stadium in Turkey have underscored the need for stronger international cooperation and efforts to combat terrorism, an issue India has been pressing for since long.The atrocious attack that targeted Sunday mass at St. Mark Church complex is yet to be claimed, but the sick-minded Daesh (ISIS Jehadists) supporters celebrated it on social media, raising the suspicion of their involvement in the dastardly act.There is no race, religion or rationale that could ever justify, let alone cheer, snuffing the lives of 25 innocent people — of which the majority were women and children — in their sacred place of worship.The deliberately provocative act of barbarism was designed to inflame inter-religious hatred. At least 25 people were killed and 49 were wounded when a 12 kilogram bomb went off in the chapel beside the main entrance to Egypt’s main Coptic cathedral in central Cairo, with the majority of the dead being women and children. This was the deadliest attack on the Christian minority in the country this year.Coptic Christians in Egypt are a minority group, representing 10 per cent of the total population, and for years have been bearing the brunt of growing sectarianism.The attack on the Cairo Cathederal comes as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi fights battles on several fronts. The economic reforms undertaken by him has angered the poor while insurgency, led by the Egyptian branch of Islamic State rages in Northern Sinai and a bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.The Egyptian interior ministry subsequently released a picture of the bomber it identified as Mahmoud Shafik Mohamed Mostafa, 22, whose nom de guerre was Abu Dajjana Al Kanani. It also released an image of what it said was the battered head of the dead bomber, who hailed from the town of Fayyoum south of Cairo.State news agency MENA reported that three of those arrested are also from Fayyoum while a fourth is from the Cairo suburb of Matariya. Both are areas typically associated with strong support for the Muslim BrotherhoodThe attack outside a football stadium in Istanbul, the sixth on its soil this year, left 38 people dead and over 150 injured. The twin bombs were intended to create maximum casualties, just like it did in June, when three suicide bombers attacked Ataturk airport in the capital. Forty-five people had lost their lives and hundreds were wounded then.The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), an offshoot of the militant Kurdistan Worker Party (PKK), has claimed the responsibility for the twin bombings outside the stadium on the night of December 10. PKK has carried out a violent three-decade insurgency mainly in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast.In a statement on its website, TAK said Turkish people were not its direct target, and added that two of its members died during the attack outside the stadium.Defeating terrorism requires a united front and it is a decision that the international community will have to take together. It is also necessary to find out what radicalizes people and inspires them to heed the call of violence and cause bloodshed.India, which is a victim of terrorism has been calling for concerted regional and international cooperation to eliminate terrorism in all its form and manifestations. It has urged for the dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens as also disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terror networks. (M. Shakeel Ahmed is a former Editor of PTI news agency. He had a long stint as PTI's West Asia correspondent based in Bahrain. Views are personal.)"

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