CAIRO—A suicide bombing in the heart of Egypt’s capital killed two police officers late Monday, the third attack in four days on the country’s security forces, as they carry out a yearslong campaign against Islamic State and other extremist groups.
A man blew himself up in a Cairo neighborhood near the 10th century Al-Azhar Mosque, as police attempted to arrest him, according to a statement from Egypt’s Interior Ministry carried by the official MENA news agency. Two policemen died and two others were injured, the statement said. The attacker also died in the explosion.
The mosque is the seat of one of the Sunni Muslim world’s most important religious authorities and centers of scholarship.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing.
The bombing comes just two days after Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 15 Egyptian soldiers in the northern Sinai Peninsula in one of the deadliest attacks on Egyptian forces in months. The man who blew himself up on Monday was wanted in connection with a third bomb attack on Friday that wounded three people in Cairo’s Giza district.
The Egyptian government is fighting a long war with North Sinai province-based insurgents who merged with Islamic State in 2014. The Egyptian wing of the extremist group has killed hundreds of police and soldiers, brought down a commercial airliner and carried out dozens of attacks targeting Coptic Christians.
Islamic State has launched numerous attacks in countries like Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent months as it faces imminent defeat in eastern Syria, which is all that remains of what the group once claimed as its caliphate. Analysts expect such attacks will only intensify, as Islamic State reverts to insurgency.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, a former armed forces chief who came to power following a military coup in 2013, argues that his government is a firewall against chaos and extremism in the Middle East. But militant attacks have surged following the military takeover, testing his rule.
Egyptian officials are currently pushing through a set of constitutional changes that would allow Mr. Sisi to stay in power until at least 2034 and further cement the power of the military within the state.
In February 2018, Mr. Sisi’s government launched a new military offensive in North Sinai aimed at ending the insurgency once and for all. A year later, daily violence continues in the remote region which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip.
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