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Twin blasts in Egypt kill six policemen, civilian

CAIRO: Two separate bomb attacks in Egypt on Friday killed six policemen and a civilian, the latest in a string of attacks targeting security forces and officials, the interior ministry said.

The deadliest attack struck in the western Talibiya neighbourhood of the capital, shortly before the weekly midday Muslim prayers and when Cairo s streets are mostly empty.

The bloodied bodies of several policemen could be seen at the blast site next to police vehicles that had been stationed there, an AFP photographer reported.

The Hassam Movement, a militant group which has claimed a string of recent attacks, said it was behind the bombing, in a statement circulated on social media.

Police cordoned off the area with yellow tape as they searched for more explosives.

The interior ministry said in a statement that the bomb exploded next to a checkpoint, killing two officers, a policeman, and three conscripts.

Three other conscripts were wounded.

The second blast took place in the evening on a road linking the Nile Delta city of Kafr el-Sheikh to the northern coastal town of Baltim.

The ministry said on its Facebook page that a “roadside bomb exploded… slightly wounding two policemen who were patrolling in a car and killing a civilian… who happened to be in the vicinity”.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the second attack.

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

Most of the attacks are carried out in the Sinai Peninsula in eastern Egypt by a branch of the Islamic State jihadist group, which has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen.

But militants have also targeted security forces and government officials in the capital.

Most of the Cairo attacks in recent months have been claimed by two little-known militant groups, Lawaa al-Thawra and the Hassam Movement.

An Egyptian judge in one of the trials of Morsi, who was detained after his ouster, escaped unharmed last month when a car bomb exploded as he drove past.

That 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.

Police say Hassam and Lawaa Al-Thawra are affiliated with Morsi s Muslim Brotherhood movement, which was banned months after his overthrow and listed as a terrorist organisation.

The Brotherhood, which espoused grassroots work and changed through elections, denies it is involved in violence.

The group had been the country s largest opposition movement under veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak, and dominated polls after his overthrow in 2011.

In 2012, it won a presidential election with its candidate, Morsi, whose divisive rule led to mass protests a year later that prompted the army to overthrow him.

Hundreds of Morsi s supporters were killed in protest clashes with police and the army in the following months.

The Brotherhood now operates as an underground and splintered movement, with some followers believed to have embraced attacks against police while others insist on non-violence.

Friday s bombings came days after the interior ministry said police killed three Hassam Movement members in southern Egypt, and weeks after it announced it had broken up one of the group s cells. – AFP