At least five people killed in one explosion as Egyptian tensions once again grow violent
A man carries an Egyptian police officer to an ambulance after the car bombing in central Cairo. (Photograph: Khalil Hamra/AP)As the Guardian’s Patrick Kingsley reports:
Cairo was rocked by three explosions within four hours on Friday that killed at least five people, injured 80 and severely damaged artefacts inside a major Egyptian museum.
The first and largest explosion was a suicide bomb that struck Cairo’s police headquarters early on Friday morning – the eve of the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.
Two smaller blasts occurred near a metro station and a police station in west Cairo. The first killed one person and injured four after a passing driver threw a grenade at police vehicles, officials said. No casualties were reported from the second blast.
The explosions mark an apparent escalation of an insurgency waged by Islamist extremists since the ousting of Mohamed Morsi last July, which has killed more than 100 police officers and soldiers. It follows an audio warning released overnight by Egypt‘s most prominent extremist group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which previously claimed responsibility for a failed attack on Egypt’s interior minister, and last month’s bomb at a northern police headquarters which killed 16 officers.
CNN’s Reza Sayah said the blast appeared to be “the most powerful bomb attack that we’ve seen here in central Cairo in recent memory.”
Speaking from near the scene of the blast, Sayah said the attack will likely intensify the fight between Egypt’s military-backed government and the groups that oppose it.
It wasn’t immediately clear who was behind that attack.
Friday is a holiday in Egypt, so the police headquarters is unlikely to have been as busy as it would have been on a weekday. The blast happened around 6:30 a.m., according to state media.
Historian Juan Cole writes on his popular Informed Comment blog:
My twitter friends in Cairo are saying that crowds gathered after the explosions angrily blaming the Muslim Brotherhood. Likely that organization, to which deposed president Muhammad Morsi belonged, will also be blamed officially. In fact, it is far more likely that this bombing was the work of Muslim radicals much to the right of the Brotherhood.
This is the biggest act of terrorism we’ve seen in Cairo itself in some time. The Directorate of Security in the provincial Delta dept city of Mansoura was bombed in December, which led to the government declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization (even though no evidence was given that the Brotherhood carried out that attack).
And Independent journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous was also tweeting from Cairo: