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By Laura King, Los Angeles Times

CAIRO — In the latest strike by suspected militants against a senior Egyptian security official, a police brigadier general was killed Wednesday by a bomb planted under his car, state media reported.

The attack in a western suburb of Cairo again demonstrated extremists’ ability to target high-ranking officials, often by pinpointing the location of their homes or learning details of their daily routines so as to stage ambushes. Wednesday’s bomb went off as the general was setting out for work.

Two police conscripts were also hurt in the blast, officials said.

The dead officer was later identified as Brig. Gen. Ahmed Zaki. He was the fifth police general killed so far this year.

Egypt has been hit by a wave of attacks, most targeting police, soldiers or security installations, in the nearly 10 months since Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was toppled by the army following mass protests demanding his removal.

The military-backed interim government has engaged in a sweeping crackdown on supporters of Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood was designated a terrorist organization late last year.

The government is currently weighing two measures that would broaden the scope of existing terrorism laws — a move that has drawn criticism from human rights groups who say they could be used as a pretext to arrest political opponents. Egyptian authorities have already used a range of measures to suppress dissent, not only among Islamists but among some secular liberals as well.

Egypt is due to hold presidential elections a little over a month from now. Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Sisi, who led the coup against Morsi, is expected to win the May 26-27 vote.

Although the United States expressed misgivings about the ousting of a democratically elected leader and the arrest or killing of thousands of his backers, the Obama administration is poised to resume at least some of the military aid that was suspended after Morsi was deposed.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that Egypt would receive 10 Apache helicopters, meant to be used in the fight against Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula.

AFP Photo/Khales Desouki

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