At least five people have been killed and nearly 70 wounded in Cairo as explosions in the Egyptian capital were reportedly targeting the police force. The attacks began with a powerful car bomb that exploded in central Cairo, killing four people and injuring 51. Just hours later, two other blasts occurred in the city, killing one more and injuring 15. The blast at the police headquarters could be felt across the city and black smoke was seen rising over the landscape.
The attacks come on the eve of the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising, which sought to bring about the removal of the country’s decades-long ruler, Hosni Mubarak. An al-Qaeda-inspired militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, known as the Champions of Jerusalem, has admitted responsibility for the attack on the police headquarters. The group previously also claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a security building in the northern city of Mansoura in December that killed 16 people and injured more than 100 others.
The attacks come at a tense time, with security forces already on heightened alert ahead of the anniversary of the start of the uprising against Mubarak, as the banned Muslim Brotherhood and its partners are planning demonstrations after Friday prayers across the country. They are the latest in a series of regular demonstrations against the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July, a year after he became Egypt’s first democratically-elected leader.
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