|Follow us on:|
Four car bomb explosions in and around the Egyptian capital Cairo, including one outside the security headquarters in the heart of the city, have killed at least six people and injured over 80.
The blasts come a day ahead of the third anniversary of the populist uprising that unseated then President Hosni Mubarak.
The explosion outside the security headquarters also significantly destroyed the Museum of Islamic Arts across the street.
Abdel-Rahman Hussein, an independent journalist, called the number of car bombs in one day “unprecedented”.
A group calling itself Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Champions of Jerusalem) claimed responsibility for the blast outside the security building, and promised further attacks in the coming days.
A statement from the group made available online warned Egyptians to stay away from the police and the army.
Egyptian police authorities immediately blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for “the terrorism” with local media quickly following suit.
Egyptian news networks showed a number of demonstrations around Cairo calling for the execution of Muslim Brotherhood members and urging the government to do more.
Camera footage taken from across the street showed a pick-up truck parked outside the security building; a man emerges and is picked up by another car. A few moments later, the car explodes.
Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim said the authorities believed the car bombing outside the security headquarters to be the work of a suicide bomber who remained in the pick-up truck.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry said it was investigating the similarities of today’s blasts to one that partially destroyed a police headquarters in the northern city of Mansoura last month.
An Interior Ministry statement said that its forces had arrested 111 suspected Muslim Brotherhood members for sowing dissent and provoking riots.
The blasts are likely to frustrate the interim Egyptian government which last week held a referendum on constitutional amendments.
The referendum is seen by many local analysts as a confirmation of the June 30-July 3, 2013 protests which culminated in the military removing then President Mohamad Morsi from power, and as an endorsement of Defence Minister Abdel-Fatah El-Sissi’s possible presidential candidacy.
Ibrahim told local networks that security forces will ensure the safety of demonstrators flocking to public spaces such as Tahrir Square to commemorate the third anniversary of Mubarak’s ouster.
Meanwhile, Egyptians on social media bemoaned the lack of security, with some calling on the interior minister to be fired, while others blamed the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood for the current instability.
[Update: Another explosion has been reported early morning on Saturday at the police training academy in Ain Shams. Local media has reported one casualty.]