The early morning explosion damaged the Cairo Security
Directorate, which includes police and state security, and sent
smoke rising over the capital, raising concerns that an Islamist
insurgency is gathering pace.
Hours after the attack, two more blasts rocked the capital.
A crude explosive device killed one policeman and wounded nine
others in another Cairo neighborhood, the Interior Ministry said in
Security sources said a person driving past security vehicles threw
a hand grenade in their direction.
In Giza, a large district on the outskirts of Cairo, a third
explosion went off near a police station. There were no immediate
reports of casualties.
The dead from the first blast included three policemen, security
sources said. State television quoted the Cairo governor as saying
50 people were wounded.
Reuters witnesses heard gunfire immediately after the blast, which
twisted the metal and shattered windows of nearby shops. Wood and
metal debris were scattered hundreds of meters around.
One body covered in a blanket lay in a pool of blood near a scorched
State television quoted witnesses as saying gunmen on motorcycles
opened fire on buildings after the explosion.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which
came a day before the third anniversary of the uprising that toppled
autocrat Hosni Mubarak and raised hopes of a stable democracy in the
Arab world's biggest nation.
Instead, relentless political turmoil and street violence have hit
investment and tourism hard.
MILITANT ATTACKS ON THE RISE
After toppling President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood
last July after mass protests against his rule, army chief General
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi unveiled a political road map he said would
bring elections and calm to Egypt.
Security forces have killed hundreds of Brotherhood members and
jailed thousands more, including top leaders.
The army-backed government has effectively removed the movement from
politics and many Egyptians turned against the Brotherhood after
Mursi's troubled one-year rule.
But authorities are struggling to contain Islamist militant
violence. Militants based in the Sinai have stepped up attacks on
security forces since Mursi's fall, killing hundreds, and Egypt's
political transition has stumbled.
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Attacks in other parts of Egypt have also been rising, raising fears
the country could face an Islamist insurgency similar to one that
raged in the 1990s before Mubarak stamped it out.
In December, a Sinai-based Islamist militant group, Ansar Bayt
al-Maqdis, said it was behind a car bomb attack on an Egyptian
police compound in the Nile Delta which killed 16 people and wounded
On Thursday, gunmen killed five policemen at a checkpoint south of
Cairo, the Interior Ministry said.
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi condemned the Cairo Security
Directorate attack in a statement, saying it was an attempt by
"terrorist forces" to derail the political road map which was,
nevertheless, being implemented "firmly".
The assault on police headquarters will likely encourage the state
to crack down harder on the Brotherhood, which it accuses of
carrying out terrorist acts. The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful
The mood was tense at the site of Friday's blast.
"Traitors and dogs!" yelled onlookers, an apparent reference to the
People also chanted anti-Brotherhood slogans. "The people want the
execution of the Brotherhood. Execution for Mursi," they yelled.
Wafaa Ahmed cried outside the Cairo Security Directorate.
"These people have no sense of loyalty to the nation. This is
terrorism, they want to get back at us because we finished them off
...," she said. "Something like this will only make the people
stronger and more determined."
(Additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla;
writing by Michael Georgy;
editing by Mike Collett-White)
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