Cairo blasts fuel fears of revolt

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CAIRO -- A series of explosions across Cairo on Friday killed at least six people, injured scores of others and fueled fears that Islamist insurgents were bringing their battle against Egypt's military-backed government to the capital.

The four attacks, inaugurated by a massive early-morning vehicle bomb outside a central security headquarters, came despite tight security on the eve of the third anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Interim President Adly Mansour urged supporters of the government to come out to mark the occasion, which is also a holiday celebrating the nation's police force.

Mr. Mansour was quoted by state media as pledging to "root out" any group threatening state security. The interior minister already had pledged to deal harshly with any disruption of today's commemorations -- a clear warning to supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi, who also have vowed to take to the streets.

Clashes around the country Friday between security forces and Mr. Morsi's backers were reported to have left 14 people dead.

A powerful explosion outside a police headquarters in downtown Cairo was the largest and deadliest of the day's blasts, killing at least four people. It shattered windows nearly half a mile away, carpeted the roadway with scorched debris and seriously damaged Cairo's recently renovated Museum of Islamic Art, a stately 19th-century treasure house directly across the street.

About three hours later, a smaller blast occurred near a metro station a few miles away, killing one person, according to the Health Ministry. Shortly after that, a third explosion was reported near a police substation, with no reports of casualties. A fourth blast, in the early evening near a cinema, killed one person, state television said.

A credible claim of responsibility for all four attacks emerged late Friday from a Sinai-based militant group called Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, or Partisans of Jerusalem. However, the interim government has consistently blamed Mr. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood for such attacks, even when another group claims responsibility. The government said it had identified three suspects but did not disclose any affiliations.

In the aftermath of the security headquarters bombing, angry onlookers gathered outside a cordon of riot police, many shouting slogans against Mr. Morsi and in favor of army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who with popular backing ousted Mr. Morsi in July and is expected to disclose soon whether he will run for president.

"What we need is for more of them to be put in jail, or put to death," Adel Reda said grimly, referring to Muslim Brotherhood members. Others waved placards bearing the image of Gen. Sissi's sunglasses-clad visage.

Attacks against the security forces are commonplace in the Sinai Peninsula, where police and army are battling a low-level insurgency, but they are still a relative rarity in major Egyptian cities.

A bombing a month ago at a security headquarters in the northern city of Mansoura killed at least 15 people and prompted the interim government to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, even though Ansar Bayt al Maqdis claimed responsibility.


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