FOUR blasts, including a suicide bombing at the police headquarters, rocked the Egyptian capital and nearby areas Friday, killing six and wounding nearly 100 on the eve of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising.
The first powerful blast was reportedly caused by a suicide attacker, who rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a security fence around the Cairo Security Directorate, killing four and injuring 76, officials at the Interior and Health Ministry said.
In a second blast hours later, at least one person was killed when a small improvised explosive device went off near a police vehicle close to a metro station in Giza. At least 11 persons were wounded in the attack.
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Another improvised bomb hit a police station near the Giza pyramids. The blast did not cause any fatalities, an Interior Ministry official told state TV. The fourth blast at the Radobis Cinema theatre in Cairo’s Haram district killed one person, state TV reported.
The deadly blasts raised concerns that an Islamist insurgency is gathering pace in the polarised Arab nation as Egyptian forces have intensified a crackdown on Islamists.
The Islamist elements have been blamed for a series of attacks on the army and police following the ouster of president Mohammed Morsi by the powerful military on July 3, 2013.
“It’s a vile, desperate attempt by evil terrorist forces to disrupt the success Egypt and its people have achieved in the [transitional] roadmap and the passing of the new constitution,” Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi commented, in reference to the Cairo bomb.
President Adly Mansour pledged to “severely punish” those involved in “planning, financing, inciting, participating in or executing” such attacks, saying tampering with state security is a “red line”.
An al Qaeda-inspired militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Champions of Jerusalem) claimed responsibility for the attack on the police headquarters, BBC reported.
The explosion at the police headquarters blew out the windows of the building and stripped off parts of its façade. The nearby Museum of Islamic Arts was severely damaged by the explosion, which could be heard six kilometres away.
State television said investigators had found the remains of the suspected suicide bomber.
A witness said she saw a badly mangled vehicle stained with blood parked in front of the police compound. TV footage showed dense smoke billowing from the building after the blast. Police have cordoned off the area.
The blasts came on the eve of the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising that ended the three-decade long autocratic regime of president Hosni Mubarak.
“They don’t want the people to to celebrate” the January 25 anniversary, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said of the attackers.