Three bombs hours apart hit Cairo police headquarters and policemen in the Egyptian capital yesterday killing at least four people on the eve of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising against former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
The first bomb struck the Cairo security directorate at about 6:15am, killing four people and wounding more than 70, the Egyptian Ministry of Health said.
Hours later, another bomb — a small makeshift device — was set off near a metro station, followed by a bomb outside a police station on a road leading to the Giza pyramids.
The attacks came a day before police were to deploy across the capital for the third anniversary of the uprising against Mubarak, with Islamists calling for mass protests against the new regime.
A witness to the police headquarters bombing said the booby-trapped car had stopped at the metal fence surrounding the building before the bomb went off.
“I was on the third floor, with the head of security,” policeman Mahmud Mushref said.
“The car crashed into the fence, and the explosion happened,” he said.
The explosion left a large crater in the ground and sent a plume of smoke billowing above the city, a correspondent reported.
The health ministry said at least four people were killed and 76 wounded.
“Casualties were relatively small given the size of the blast,” Egyptian Ministry of the Interior spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said.
A witness who lives in an apartment about 200m away from the police building said he had been woken up by the explosion.
“My building shook,” Yahya Attiya said.
Hours later, the small bomb set off near a central Cairo metro station wounded five policemen, the health ministry said.
State television reported that one person was killed in the blast, but it was not immediately possible to confirm the fatality.
The facade of police headquarters and the front of the nearby Museum of Islamic Art were badly damaged by the earlier blast.
The interior ministry said the bomb was detonated beside a metal fence around the police building.
Riot police pushed back hundreds of onlookers, some of whom chanted slogans against the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood has denied involvement in the attacks.
The brotherhood has called for protests to start yesterday to mark the January 25 anniversary of the 2011 uprising against Mubarak.
The country has been deeply divided since former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow, between his Islamist supporters and backers of the military which accuses the Brotherhood of terrorism.
“I can now call the Muslim Brotherhood the terrorist brotherhood,” said Attiya, as he looked at the wreckage outside the police headquarters.
Others in the crowd outside the bomb site carried Egyptian flags and some held up posters of Eqyptian army General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew Morsi.
The Brotherhood has condemned previous attacks against the police and army since Morsi’s ouster in July last year.