Islamist militants struck back at Egypt's military rulers on Monday, killing as many as 25 police officers in an attack that is sure to inspire more retribution and more unrest. According to reports, the police officers were new conscripts who were ambushed while traveling on minibuses near the Gaza border town of Rafah. Evidence, including unconfirmed graphic photos posted online, indicate that the men were forced from the bus, made to lie down with their hands tied, and executed.
This new attack comes one day after 36 Islamist supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were killed while in the custody of the Egyptian military. The interim government claims they were killed during an attempted escape, but other reports say they were asphyxiated when the bus they were riding in was filled with tear gas. Other anti-military groups say there evidence they were killed beforehand and some were shot.
With both incidents raising charges of extrajudicial killings and more reprisals and fighting expected, the situation in Egypt is threatening to devolve into an even bloodier and more chaotic conflict than ever before. More than 900 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Egypt in the five days since since the military began its crackdown on supporters of former president Mohammed Morsi. The fighting has not just been the worst that Egypt — and perhaps all of the Middle East (outside of Syria) — has seen in the last two years, it's been vindictive and merciless, and neither side shows any willingness to back off. General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said on Sunday that "Our self-restraint will not continue," though after mowing down hundreds of protesters it's hard to see how there was any restraint to begin with.
And if all this chaos wasn't enough, a bit of absurdity is now being added to the mix. Former President Hosni Mubarak, whose overthrow in 2011 led to this unstable situation, might be released from prison this week. Prosecutors have cleared him of corruption charges, which could open the door his departure from prison in the next 48 hours. (Although that isn't guaranteed.) However, he still faces a retrial on charges that he ordered the killing of protesters during 2011 demonstrations.