24 Mar 2018 – 18:26
Alexandria, Egypt: A policeman was killed in a bomb attack Saturday targeting the security chief of Egypt’s Alexandria, officials said, two days before the start of the country’s presidential election.
The car bomb, which exploded near a convoy transporting General Mostafa el-Nemr through a residential area of the Mediterranean city, also wounded four others, the government press office said.
Nemr 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.
Nemr himself, escorted by guards, appeared on Egyptian television visiting the scene shortly after the attack.
Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek ordered an “urgent and wide inquiry”.
Photographs posted online showed black smoke rising above the site of the attack near a police station on Al-Moaskar Al-Romani street.
An AFP correspondent at the scene said security and military units had cordoned off the area of the attack, which left several burnt-out cars. Police forensics experts were examining the vehicle used for the bombing.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which came ahead of Egypt’s presidential election starting Monday, in which incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi looks certain to sweep to a second term in office.
Army securing election
Egypt’s military said Saturday on Twitter that it was making “intensive preparations for the armed forces to secure the presidential election” on March 26-28.
Sisi stormed to victory in a 2014 poll, a year after leading the military 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.
The Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group, which has declared allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group, has 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, 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 five-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.