Saturday 27 December 2014

Blasts kill top policemen in Egypt

Published 30/06/2014 | 14:07

Egyptian security forces and medics help an injured man to an ambulance after bombs went off near the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt (AP/Ahmed Abdel Fattah, El Shorouk Newspaper)
Egyptian security forces and medics help an injured man to an ambulance after bombs went off near the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt (AP/Ahmed Abdel Fattah, El Shorouk Newspaper)
Two senior police officers have been killed after explosions in Cairo

Three homemade bombs have exploded near Egypt's presidential palace in Cairo, killing two senior police officers and injuring 10 other people.

It comes on the anniversary of the mass protests that led to the ousting of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

The devices were planted less than 20 metres from the walls of the Ittihadiya palace in the Heliopolis district of eastern Cairo, in what appeared to be a serious security breach in the heavily policed area.

Security officials said the first bomb to go off slightly wounded three street cleaners, while a second and third exploded while bomb squad teams were trying to defuse them.

Those killed a police colonel and a lieutenant-colonel, and wounded seven other people. Another device in the area was discovered and safely defused, according to the officials.

It was not immediately clear whether President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who as army chief ousted Mr Morsi, was inside the palace when the explosions occurred.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the blasts bore the hallmarks of Islamic militant groups sympathetic to Mr Morsi.

A militant group that has claimed responsibility for previous attacks on police said in a statement dated June 27 that it had planned to plant bombs around Ittihadiya but aborted the attack.

Ajnad Misr, or Soldiers of Egypt, said it planted explosives near the palace on June 18 to hit its security contingent. But it said it aborted the attack because civilians came close to them.

It said its operatives were unable to retrieve the devices but have been diverting civilians away from them.

A video showed the immediate aftermath of the second explosion, with plain-clothes police carrying away the colonel's body and an injured policeman on a stretcher as a cloud of white smoke rises from the site.

Security forces also sealed off roads leading to the palace, with police dogs used in the search for more explosive devices and special police forces arriving at the scene.

The blasts fell on the anniversary of the start of several days of massive protests in which millions of Egyptians demanded that Mr Morsi step down.

The protests culminated with his removal on July 3 and subsequent imprisonment. El-Sissi retired from the military and was elected president in May for a four-year term.

On the other side of town, security forces sealed off Tahrir Square - epicentre of the 2011 uprising that toppled long-term ruler Hosni Mubarak - to search for explosives.

The square will be the venue for celebrations due later today to mark the anniversary of the anti-Morsi protests.

Press Association

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