Cairo (AFP) – A massive suicide bomb struck Cairo police headquarters Friday, the first of three blasts in the Egyptian capital that killed five people and wounded scores ahead of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising.
The attacks came a day before police were to deploy across Cairo as Islamist supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and backers of the military that ousted him prepared rallies to mark the revolt that drove dictator Hosni Mubarak from power.
In the first attack, an assailant rammed a bomb-laden car into a metal fence surrounding the Cairo security directorate at around 6:15 am (0415 GMT), killing four people and wounding more than 70, police officials and the health ministry said.
The blast, which devastated the facade of the building, left a large crater in the ground and sent a plume of smoke billowing above the city, an AFP correspondent reported.
Policeman Mahmud Mushref, his head bandaged after being wounded in the blast, said the car had slammed into the metal fence surrounding the building.
“I was on the third floor, with the head of security,” said Mushref.
“The car crashed into the fence, and the explosion happened.”
Interior ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said “the vehicle tried to get close to the building but was stopped at the gate. Casualties were relatively small given the size of the blast.”
Friday is the Muslim day of prayer and rest and so relatively few people were on the streets.
The bombing also damaged the nearby Museum of Islamic Art, bringing down ceilings and damaging exhibits, culture minister Mohamed Ibrahim told AFP.
State television said investigators had found the remains of the suspected suicide bomber.
Hours later, a small makeshift bomb exploded near a police vehicle close to a metro station, killing a police conscript, security officials said.
That was followed by a bomb outside a police station on a road leading to the Giza pyramids that caused no casualties, the interior ministry said.
“They don’t want the people to celebrate,” the January 25 anniversary, the interior minister, who is also named Mohamed Ibrahim, said of the assailants.
“Whoever planned, participated, financed, or incited (the attack) will be punished with the worst form of punishment,” it said.
Later Friday, at least one person was killed when Islamist protesters clashed with their civilian opponents and police in several cities, security officials said.