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Aug 20, 2015 12:47 AM

Massive car bomb explodes in Cairo, wounding 6 police

The Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) A massive car bomb exploded early Thursday near a national security building in a popular residential neighborhood in Cairo, wounding at least six police officers and blowing the facades off nearby buildings, Egyptian security officials said.

There were no immediate reports of deaths from the explosion, which demolished a wall in front of the government building and smashed its structure, leaving gaping holes exposing its offices. For blocks around the blast site in the popular Shubra el-Kheima neighborhood, glass from blown-out windows could be seen on the street.

Ambulances and fire trucks rushed to the scene, flooded with water from broken pipes from what authorities said was a blast from high explosives.

Emergency aid head Ahmed Al Ansari said the six wounded were being evacuated to nearby hospitals. Wrecked cars stood around the building, as Kalashnikov-wielding security forces patrolled the streets and set up roadblocks to ward off hysterical residents.

Inside his ruined clinic next door to the security building, plastic surgeon Gawad Mahoud lamented Egypt's troubles since the military ousted the country's first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi.

"We were here painting the office, and then it went off. It was like an earthquake, it blew the doors off and smashed all the windows in," he said. "The explosion sounded professional, it wasn't small time."

Access to the area was highly restricted, even in the minutes following the blast, with dozens of policemen, plainclothes and uniformed, discouraging any approach. At the site, press credentials of the few foreign journalists who managed to arrive were checked repeatedly by authorities.

Egypt has been wracked by a wave of attacks since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi overthrew the divisive Morsi in 2013 and launched a major crackdown against his supporters and dissent in general.

Last weekend, he decreed a new anti-terrorism law presented amid a wave of attacks and killings this summer, including the assassination of Egypt's attorney general by a car bomb in Cairo. The far-reaching new law sets a sweeping definition for who can face a harsh set of punishments, including journalists who don't toe the government line.

Egypt has lacked a legislature for three years, and since winning office after Morsi's overthrow, el-Sissi has legislative authority and has passed dozens of laws.

The Cabinet approved the draft anti-terrorism law last month, two days after a car bomb in an upscale Cairo neighborhood killed the country's prosecutor general, Hisham Barakat.

On the day it was approved, Islamic militants launched a multi-pronged attack attempting to seize a northern Sinai town, hitting the military with suicide attacks and battling soldiers for hours.


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