At least five people have been killed in three explosions that rocked Egypt’s capital Cairo, causing chaos ahead of the third anniversary of the Jan. 25 uprising.
A car-bomb struck the Cairo Security Directorate, which includes police and state security, at 6:30am on Friday morning, leaving at least four dead and 54 injured, according to Egypt’s health ministry. The dead included three policemen, security sources said.
The suicide bomb, which was detonated in the parking lot of the top-security compound, marks the most high-profile attack in recent months, raising concerns that an Islamist insurgency is gathering pace in Egypt.
A second blast targeted police vehicles near a metro station, followed by a third explosion near a police station in Talbeya, a suburb in southwest Cairo. There were no confirmed reports of fatalities in the third attack.
The first explosion, which sent smoke rising over the city center, caused major damage to several floors of the police headquarters, as well a nearby Islamic art museum.
State television quoted witnesses as saying that gunmen opened fire after the blast. Interior Ministry spokesman Gen. Hani Abdel-Latif declined to comment on the reports of subsequent gunfire or whether guards had opened fire on the alleged suicide bomber, the Associated Press reported.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which comes a day before the third anniversary of the Jan. 25 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Yet the blasts prompted anger on the streets of Cairo, largely directed at Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Riot police pushed back hundreds of onlookers of the first attack, some of whom chanted slogans against the Brotherhood.
“The people want the execution of the Brotherhood,” some in the crowd yelled, according to Reuters.
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi condemned the Cairo Security Directorate attack in a statement, Reuters reported. He said it was an attempt by “terrorist forces” to derail the political road map which was, nevertheless, being implemented “firmly”.
Authorities in Egypt have struggled to contain Islamist militant violence since President Mohamed Morsi was deposed by the army last July after mass protests against his rule.
Egypt’s interim government blacklisted the Brotherhood after 15 people were killed in a suicide attack at a police compound north of Cairo in December. The Muslim Brotherhood has denied involvement in the attack.
On Thursday, masked gunmen riding motorcycles killed five Egyptian policemen in an attack on a checkpoint south of the capital Cairo.
Since Morsi was ousted, security forces have killed hundreds of Brotherhood members and jailed thousands more, including some of its top leaders.
Source: AFP, Reuters and Al Arabiya