Cairo: Three blasts, including a suicide bombing at the police headquarters, rocked the Egyptian capital today, killing five persons and injuring 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 others, 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 after being thrown at a police vehicle near a metro station in Giza. At least 11 persons were reportedly wounded in the attack.
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 deadly blasts have raised concerns that an Islamist insurgency is gathering pace in the polarised Arab nation as Egyptian forces have intensified crackdown on Islamists.
The Islamist elements have been blamed for a series of attacks on the army and police following the ouster of president Mohamed 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.
An al-Qaeda-inspired militant group Ansar Beit al Maqdis (Champions of Jerusalem) has admitted 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.
Authorities have carried out a sustained crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood and its partners earlier said they were planning protests after Friday prayers today across the country, the latest in a series of demonstrations against the overthrow of Morsi.
A spate of recent explosions in densely populated areas raised fears that militant activity in the border Sinai Peninsula, which has spiked since Morsi’s removal, would take its toll on other parts of the country.
But the Brotherhood has repeatedly denied any links to the attacks. The group condemned today’s attack at the police headquarters and said the group was part of a “peaceful revolution”.
The Brotherhood was blamed for an attack on a security building in the northern city of Mansoura in December that killed 16 people, mostly policemen. The group was declared a terrorist group shortly afterwards.