Police officers inspect near the site of the explosions in
front of Cairo University. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
A series of explosions outside Cairo University has
killed two people, including a police brigadier-general, in
what appeared to be a militant attack targeting security
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Islamist
militants have carried out many similar operations against
police and soldiers since the army ousted President Mohamed
Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July after mass protests
The fast-growing insurgency threatens the security of the
most populous Arab nation ahead of a presidential election in
May - as well as the vital tourist industry on which Egypt
relies for revenue.
Two bombs, left among trees outside the university, killed
the police officer and wounded five other security forces who
had been guarding the facility, the ministry said.
Shortly afterwards, a third blast killed one person, four
security officials said.
People screamed and ran for safety after the attacks as panic
spread on the streets and on campus in an upmarket area near
the zoo in Giza, a Reuters witness said. Police found a
fourth bomb in the area.
"We expect trouble for the long term. How can the police
protect us when they can't even protect themselves. It is not
possible," said student Mohamed Abdel Aziz outside Cairo
University after the explosions.
Responding to Wednesday's violence, Egypt's presidential
spokesman Ahmed al-Muslimani said: "Terrorist groups want
Egyptian universities to be known for chaos and bloodshed
instead of for modernity and civilisation."
Video footage online showed a cloud of smoke hovering above a
tree-lined roundabout. A loud blast is heard moments later.
Members of the security forces clad in black uniforms are
shown moving away from the suspected site of the explosions
and then advancing towards it with their weapons drawn.
Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of
the video, which was released by El-Youm el-Sabaa newspaper.
Bombings and shootings targeting the security forces have
become commonplace in Egypt since the army deposed Mursi. The
government this week put the death toll from such attacks at
nearly 500 people, most of them soldiers and police.
Analysts predict that militants will escalate violence before
the May 26-27 presidential election that is expected to be
easily won by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the general who toppled
Widely seen as Egypt's de facto leader since he deposed
Mursi, Sisi enjoys backing from supporters who see him as
Egypt's saviour who can end the political turmoil and bring
prosperity to the country.
But he is viewed by the Islamist opposition as the mastermind
of a coup that ignited the worst internal strife in Egypt's
It will be the second time Egyptians have voted in a
presidential election in less than two years.
But in contrast to the 2012 vote won by Mursi, this election
follows a fierce government crackdown on dissent that has
included both Islamists and secular-minded democracy
Thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been detained and
killed in mass protests and clashes with police since Mursi
was deposed. Last week more than 500 were sentenced to death
in a mass hearing condemned by rights groups and Western
The Brotherhood, Egypt's best organised political party until
last year, has been banned, driven underground and declared a
terrorist group by the government.
The movement says it is committed to peaceful activism.
Senior Brotherhood politician Amr Darrag condemned the
violence at Cairo University on his Twitter site and said it
showed the clear failure of the security forces to protect
Tackling Islamist insurgents based in the Sinai Peninsula
will be a far more daunting task for security forces. They
have shown their ability to carry out nearly daily attacks
despite army offensives against strongholds.
The attacks have spread from the largely lawless Sinai to
Cairo and other cities, rattling Egyptians who have longed
for security since a popular uprising ousted autocrat Hosni
Mubarak in 2011.
While the militants are not expected to seize power, their
campaign could weaken the government by dealing a major blow
to the economy. Tourism, a vital source of hard currency, has
been hit hard by the bloodshed.