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Egypt: Blasts at Cairo University kill officer, wound 5

From Ian Lee, Saad Abedine and Marie-Louise Gumuchian, CNN
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A third bomb explodes outside Cairo University
  • Egyptian police brigadier general killed, five people injured, Interior Ministry says
  • It says that two explosive devices were in trees in the area
  • Egypt has been in turmoil since army ousted Islamist president in July

Cairo (CNN) -- An Egyptian police brigadier general was killed and five others were injured in bombings Wednesday outside Cairo University, the Interior Ministry said.

Three blasts rocked the area outside the university campus -- the first two in quick succession near the faculty of engineering and a third a little later near the main gate.

Hundreds of police and security officials cordoned off the area, where forensic experts and sniffer dogs were brought in to investigate. Ambulances also arrived on the scene.

Attacks targeting security forces have become increasingly common in Egypt since the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsy, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, in July following mass protests against his rule.

In a statement, the Interior Ministry said Brig. Gen. Tariq al-Mirgawi, police chief of the criminal unit in West Giza, was killed in the blasts. Those injured were police officers.

"Experts determined that the two explosive devices were planted in one of the trees in the area," the ministry said, adding that an investigation was under way.

A security source within the ministry told CNN the bombs appeared to be "homemade."

Internal strife

Al-Mirgawi's funeral, held at the police academy in Cairo, was broadcast live on state-run Nile TV.

Mourners carry the coffin of Brigadier General Tariq al-Mirgawi during his funeral in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on April 2, 2014.
Mourners carry the coffin of Brigadier General Tariq al-Mirgawi during his funeral in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on April 2, 2014.

The station had earlier reported security forces were dealing with a car loaded with TNT explosive material which was discovered outside the campus. State TV later said al Nahda square, which is in front of the campus, had been opened to traffic following police searches.

The blasts caused part of a building to collapse, the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab called an emergency meeting of the Cabinet's security committee.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Islamist militants have carried out similar operations in a fast-growing insurgency threatening Egypt, which will hold presidential elections on May 26-27.

Egypt has faced unending turmoil since the uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Since Morsy's ouster, the country has suffered the worst internal strife in its modern history. Morsy and other Brotherhood leaders were rounded up soon after his removal from office.

Battleground

Cairo's military-installed government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. It accuses the movement of supporting attacks against the police and army -- an allegation the Brotherhood denies.

Since Morsy's ouster, more than 1,000 people have been killed and thousands of Brotherhood members have been detained in a crackdown by the interim authorities.

The government says militants have killed almost 500 people in the same time period, most of them police and soldiers.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the general who toppled Morsy, is expected to win the May presidential vote easily.

He is popular among Egyptians who supported the army's decision to remove Morsy from power a year into his term and see el-Sisi as the kind of strongman needed to end the turmoil dogging the Arab world's most populous nation.

But el-Sisi is reviled by the Islamist opposition, which sees him as the mastermind of a coup against an elected leader and the author of a fierce crackdown on dissent.

Editors' Note: This article has been edited to remove plagiarized content after CNN discovered multiple instances of plagiarism by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, a former CNN news editor.

CNN's Schams Elwazer, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Heba Fahmy and Neda Farshbaf contributed to this report.

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