CAIRO — Bomb blasts Wednesday near Cairo University killed a brigadier general and wounded five other people, resurrecting fears that a violent campaign against government forces will grow as Egypt approaches presidential elections.
Ajnad Misr, or Soldiers of Egypt, a relatively new jihadist group that’s carried out a number of attacks on police officials in Cairo, claimed responsibility for the three explosions, one of which claimed the life of Brig. Gen. Tareq el-Margawy. The group, which has Facebook and Twitter pages, calls members of the security forces “criminals” and has said it works to spare civilians. It largely succeeded Wednesday; most of the wounded were police officers.
According to Interior Ministry statistics, roughly 500 police officers have been killed since July 3, when the country’s military, led by then-Defense Minister Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, ousted President Mohammed Morsi. A harsh crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, through which Morsi rose to prominence, has killed thousands of Morsi supporters in the same period. An estimated 16,000 people accused of sympathizing with the Brotherhood have been jailed.
In a statement posted hours after the attack, Ajnad Misr said it had targeted el-Margawy because of his role in the violent clearing of one of two sit-ins in support of Morsi on Aug. 14, the bloodiest day in the crackdown, when more than 1,100 people were killed.
The group’s statement said el-Margawy “was well known for killing innocent people and taking part in Nahda massacre,” a reference to one of the sit-ins. The other, better-known sit-in was in Cairo’s Rabaa district.
The group also said it was angry about the police’s increased arrests and assaults on women and young people. “We are honored to dedicate the attack to them,” the statement read. “We promise that we will not rest as long as one of you is held.”
The location of two of the bombs — buried in a hole directly in front of a police outpost at Cairo University — suggested that the government’s grip on security is tenuous at best. A third bomb wounded no one; Ajnad Misr said that was because its detonation was delayed until civilians had left the area.
The twin bombs at the police outpost were detonated one right after the other at around noon, apparently by remote control.