6 policemen killed in checkpoint blast in Cairo

A victim being taken away from the bombing site. The attack happened shortly before Friday prayers.
A victim being taken away from the bombing site. The attack happened shortly before Friday prayers.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

New militant group Hasm Movement claims responsibility; it's linked to Morsi, police say

CAIRO • A bombing that killed six policemen at a checkpoint was the latest in a series of attacks in the Egyptian capital targeting security forces and officials, the interior ministry said.

The attack occurred in the western Talibiya neighbourhood of Cairo, shortly before Friday prayers for Muslims yesterday and when the streets were mostly empty.

The bloodied bodies of several policemen were seen at the blast site next to police vehicles that were stationed there, a photographer reported. The interior ministry said the explosion took place next to a checkpoint, killing two officers, a low-ranking policeman and three conscripts.

A recently emerged militant group called the Hasm Movement has claimed responsibility. The organisation, which has claimed several attacks in Egypt in recent months, made the announcement in an Internet post.

Militants have repeatedly attacked policemen and soldiers since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and unleashed a bloody crackdown on his followers.

Most of the attacks have taken place in the Sinai Peninsula by a branch of the ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) terrorist group, which has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen there. But militants have also targeted security forces and government officials in the capital.

An Egyptian judge in one of the trials of Mr Morsi, who was detained after his ouster, escaped unharmed last month when a car bomb exploded as he drove by. The attack came days after a roadside bombing targeting a police convoy killed a passer-by.

In September, militants set off a car bomb as the country's deputy state prosecutor was passing. He, too, escaped unharmed.

Apart from the Hasm Movement, another little known militant outfit called Lawaa al-Thawra has also claimed responsibility for the recent attacks. The police say both groups are affiliated with Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement, which has been listed as a terrorist group.

The Brotherhood, which espoused grassroots work and change through elections, denies it is involved in violence. In 2012, it won a presidential election with its candidate, Mr Morsi, whose divisive rule led to mass protests a year later that prompted the army to overthrow him. Hundreds of his supporters were killed in protests in the following months.

Yesterday's bombing came days after the interior ministry said the police killed three members of the Hasm Movement, and weeks after it announced breaking up one of the group's cells.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline '6 policemen killed in checkpoint blast in Cairo'. Print Edition | Subscribe