ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (UPDATED) – A policeman was killed in a bomb attack on Saturday, March 24, targeting the security chief of the city of Alexandria, two days before the start of Egypt’s presidential election, officials said.
The bomb, which exploded in a car near a convoy transporting the security chief through a residential area of the Mediterranean city, also wounded 4 others, the government press office said.
General Mostafa el-Nemr, Alexandria’s security chief, was not among the casualties of the “terrorist bombing that targeted the convoy,” his office said, quoted by state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram.
Health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said the casualties were taken to a military hospital.
Photographs posted online showed black smoke rising above the site of the attack on Al-Moaskar Al-Romani street, near a police station.
An Agence France-Presse correspondent at the scene said security and military units had cordoned off the area of the attack, which left several burnt-out cars.
The bombing, for which there was no immediate claim of responsibility, came ahead of Monday’s start of Egypt’s presidential election in which the incumbent, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is expected to sweep to a second term in office.
Sisi stormed to victory in the 2014 presidential election, having led the military a year before in ousting Egypt’s first freely elected leader, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi.
Since the ouster of Morsi and a crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood, security forces have sought to quell attacks by jihadists who have declared allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group.
The jihadists of Ansar Beit al-Maddis have killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in its North Sinai stronghold but also elsewhere in Egypt.
IS claimed the 2015 bombing of a Russian airliner carrying tourists from the South Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, which killed all 224 people on board.
It has also killed scores of members of Egypt’s minority Coptic Christian community in church bombings and shootings.
Last April 9, during Palm Sunday celebrations, suicide bombers killed 45 worshippers in attacks on churches in Alexandria and Tanta, also north of Cairo, since when Egypt has been under a state of emergency.
Sisi gave the armed forces and police a three-month deadline in November to wipe out the jihadists.
The president’s ultimatum came after suspected IS gunmen massacred more than 300 worshippers in a Sinai mosque associated with Sufi Muslims, who are seen by IS as heretics.
The deadline has since been extended and the armed forces have launched their most comprehensive campaign yet to end the 5-year-old jihadist insurgency.
The military gives regular updates on the operation, saying it has killed more than 100 jihadists so far while losing at least 20 troops. – Rappler.com