The killing of 25 police conscripts in Sinai on Monday in an apparent attack by militants has sparked condemnation nationwide.
Following a military funeral for the victims, Egyptian state television reported that Adly Mansour, the country's interim president, extended his condolences to the families of the deceased and announced an official state of mourning for three days, starting on Tuesday.
On Monday evening, a military plane transported the victims' corpses from Al-Arish city in North Sinai, to Al-Maza military airport, Cairo, where their families, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, armed forces chief of staff Sedki Sobhi and a number of officials received them for the funeral.
Twenty-five conscripts in the Central Security Forces (CSF) were shot dead, and two injured, early on Monday when suspected militants ambushed vehicles carrying them near Rafah city on the Egyptian-Israeli border.
Later on Monday, Ibrahim said that "the identity of the perpetrators of the attack has been determined" in a telephone interview with local privately-owned Dream TV.
Ibrahim said that efforts are ongoing to arrest and question the perpetrators. The bus-drivers with whom the victims were travelling are currently in custody, the minister said.
Many political forces have condemned the attacks, expressing their opposition to "terrorism."
The National Association for Change called for a popular funeral for the victims to be held on Friday in Cairo's central Tahrir Square. It said in a statement on Monday that "the massacre is proof that the murderous terrorists do not belong to this country, but are implementing a plan... to destroy the Egyptian state and its institutions, especially the army and the police."
military and policemen carry coffins, covered with national flags, containing the bodies of the off-duty policemen who were killed near the border town of Rafah, North Sinai, Egypt, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. (Photo: AP)
Leading leftist politician Hamdeen Sabbahi said that the attack shows that "terrorist groups are uniting against the nation state" adding that the "fight against terrorism is ongoing and will triumph."
The National Salvation Front (NSF), a leading anti-Muslim Brotherhood umbrella group that Sabbahi belongs to, blamed the Brotherhood for the bloodshed, saying that it is attempting to "overthrow the state."
The Salafist-oriented Nour Party said that the "criminal act" was a result of the spread of extremist thought that deem others, particularly army and the police, infidels.
Tensions have been on the rise between security forces and militant groups, mostly with Islamist affiliations, in the Sinai Peninsula, in recent years. Since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on 3 July, there has been a rapid increase in attacks on security personnel in the unsettled region, with many security personnel killed.
Egypt's religious institutions also condemned the Monday killings.
The grand imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayyeb, extended his condolences to the families of the victims, saying that Egypt is facing an attack on its security and stability.
Similarly, Egypt's United Council for Egyptian Churches, which includes Coptic, Episcopal, Evangelical, Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches, extended its condolences to the victims "who sacrificed their lives for the country."