Egypt: Suicide blast in Cairo tourist area kills three policemen

A suicide bomber has killed and injured members of Egypt's security forces in an attack near Cairo's historical centre.

    Egypt has seen a spate of attacks, mainly against security forces and the Coptic Christian minority [Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]
    Egypt has seen a spate of attacks, mainly against security forces and the Coptic Christian minority [Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]

    A third policeman has died of his wounds, sustained when officers were pursuing a man they believed had been responsible for planting a bomb in front of a Cairo mosque last Friday, police said on Tuesday. The bomb had been successfully defused.

    A video circulating on local media showed the moment Monday's blast occurred. The suspect, identified by authorities as 37-year-old Hassan al-Hassan Abdullah, was riding a bicycle down a narrow alleyway as security forces chased after him near Cairo's historical centre.

    He detonated an explosive device that was on his person in the Darb al-Ahmar neighbourhood - near the Old Cairo tourist area and al-Azhar mosque - the moment he was stopped, killing himself and two policemen and injuring three other officers, according to Egypt's interior ministry.

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    Police said Abdullah was a foreign national, without revealing more details.

    They also said that upon searching his apartment, police found a time bomb and temporarily evacuated the building until the bomb was defused.

    Egypt has seen a spate of attacks, mainly against security forces and the country's Coptic Christian minority, since the army's 2013 overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

    These attacks have been mostly claimed by groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). Meanwhile, Egypt's army and police are trying to suppress armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula.

    Last month, a policeman was killed as he was trying to defuse an explosive device near a church in a residential Cairo district.

    In December, three Vietnamese tourists and their Egyptian guide were killed after a roadside bomb struck a tourist bus near the Pyramids of Giza, south of Cairo.

    It was the first deadly attack against foreign tourists in Egypt in more than a year and came as the tourism sector, a vital source of foreign currency revenue, was beginning to recover from a sharp drop in visitor numbers since a 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Hosni Mubarak.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies