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Egypt's Media City targeted by militants in 'Operation Tongue-Cutting'

Electricity towers supplying the state-run district will be out of action for a week after an attack by group known for targeting KFC outlets
Cairo's state-run Media City is home to the headquarters of most of Egypt's satellite channels (Facebook/EMPC.Media.City)

Two electricity towers in the Egyptian capital will be out of action for a week after they were targeted by improvised explosives on Tuesday morning, the electricity minister said.

The towers are located in central Cairo’s Media City, an upscale district home to the headquarters of top media companies and television channels.

Transmission of major Egyptian satellite channels was cut off after the towers, which supply Media City, were targeted with four IEDs.

The channels are now running again after the Electricity Ministry supplied emergency generators as a temporary solution until the towers are repaired, after engineering work that is expected to cost over $100,000.

The attacks were claimed by a group called Revolutionary Punishment, which said in a statement that they had targeted the district’s electricity supply “as a final warning” as part of “Operation Tongue-Cutting”.

The state-run media district houses the headquarters of several leading local outlets – Media City head Osama Heikel told Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Yaum that the electricity towers had not been targeted “at random”.

Revolutionary Punishment, a relatively little-known militant group, has previously claimed responsibility for attacks on hotels, US-owned banks and mobile phone companies, which it claims are supportive of the Egyptian government.

Established after the fourth anniversary of the 25 January 2011 revolution that ousted longtime president Hosni Mubarak, the group is most known for attacks against KFC outlets.

Three of the group’s members were arrested just north of Cairo on Tuesday evening.

Sherif Mohy el-Din, a researcher of counter-terrorism and human rights at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, told Egyptian news site Mada Masr that the group’s activities are “unorganised and uncontrolled”.

Many have pointed the finger towards the Muslim Brotherhood, a group designated as terrorist by the Egyptian government that has been the subject of a fierce crackdown since the toppling of a Muslim Brotherhood president in 2013.

According to Mohy el-Din, the attacks highlight a growing rift between the Brotherhood’s assimilationist older members and its youth, who are drawn to more radical methods as state-led repression continues.

“We cannot yet say for sure that the Muslim Brotherhood as an organisation is formally moving towards violence, but the emergence of these groups at least say there is movement towards violence by its youth,” he said.

A number of prominent political parties also blamed the Brotherhood for Tuesday’s electricity tower attacks.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood has denied any connection to Revolutionary Punishment, saying in a statement last month that the group “has no relation to any groups or movements that commit violent acts”.

“Our revolution is peaceful and will remain so.”