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Africa

Bomb attacks rock Cairo ahead of uprising anniversary

© AFP

Video by Catherine CLIFFORD

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-24

Cairo was rocked by a series of four explosions on Friday with at least six people killed and dozens more wounded, a day before Egypt marks the third anniversary of the 2011 ouster of ex-leader Hosni Mubarak.

The country’s security forces were the apparent target of all three attacks, which come at a time of mounting confrontation between Islamists and the military-backed government.

The first explosion took place at around 6.15 am (0415 GMT) outside the Cairo Security Directorate, which includes police and state security, as an assailant rammed a bomb-laden car into a metal fence surrounding the building.

At least four people were killed and more than 70 wounded, police officials and the health ministry said.

Less than four hours later, a second blast went off near a downtown metro station and police station, killing a police conscript and wounding around 15 more, state media reported.

Shortly after, a third blast, an apparent grenade attack, went off one block from the Talbia police station near the world-famous Giza Pyramids. There were no injuries reported.

The fourth explosion took place on a road outside a Cairo cinema as a convoy of security forces passed by, security officials told the AP news agency.

One person was killed in the attack, the officials said, with state TV confirming the toll.

Police targeted

The dead from the first and most high-profile blast in the security headquarters included three policemen, security sources said.

The front of the Security Directorate was badly damaged, with concrete slabs missing from its austere façade. The shockwave shattered windows of nearby shops, and metal debris was scattered hundreds of metres around.

State television said there was also gunfire reported in the area immediately after the blast. The explosion at police HQ also caused major destruction at the Islamic Art Museum, located directly opposite the presumed target.

The deadly attacks come at a tense time with the security services on alert ahead of the third anniversary of the start of the 2011 uprising that toppled Egypt’s long-time autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak’s ouster raised hopes of a stable democracy in the Arab world’s biggest nation but relentless political turmoil and street violence has continued to plague the country.

Attacks on the rise

Attacks in other parts of Egypt have been increasing.

Islamist militants based in the Sinai have stepped up attacks on security forces since the army toppled the democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood last July.

The army coup came after mass protests against Morsi and the Brotherhood’s rule. The army chief that led Morsi’s ouster, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has recently said he may run for the presidency.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. On social media, the Muslim Brotherhood denied responsibility for blasts, labelling them “cowardly.”

However, onlookers at the scene of Friday’s attack on the Cairo Security Directorate in Cairo pinned the blame on the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The people want the execution of the Brotherhood. Execution for Morsi,” they yelled.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, Reuters)

Date created : 2014-01-24

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