Sisi vows reprisals after Egypt palace blasts

Two police officers have been killed in bomb blasts outside the presidential palace in Cairo

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday vowed “retribution” after two police officers were killed in two bomb blasts outside his palace in Cairo’s Heliopolis district, almost a year after he overthrew his predecessor.

The prerecorded speech by Sisi was aired on television channels to mark June 30, the day millions protested against then Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, prompting the army led by Sisi to topple him three days later.

Earlier in the day one Egyptian police lieutenant colonel was killed while defusing a bomb near the presidential palace. Another colonel was killed in a small explosion in the same area. Several policemen were also wounded.

Police officials had earlier said two bombs exploded, but the ministry clarified in a statement that only one device went off as bomb disposal experts were trying to defuse it.

The blast came days after the militant group Ajnad Misr, or Soldiers of Egypt, said it had planted a series of bombs in the same area to target security forces. It aborted the mission due to concerns that civilians would be hurt but was unable to remove the bombs and released a statement urging caution.

The group formally announced itself in January saying it would target the government after the army ousted elected President Mohammad Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood last year.

It was not immediately clear if President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who led Mursi's ouster, was at the palace at the time of explosion.

Islamist militants have targeted police and soldiers with bomb attacks and shootings since Mursi's ousting. Thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been arrested, and hundreds more have been killed.

The Brotherhood denies any link to the violence.

Egypt is preparing for celebrations to mark the anniversary of June 30 protests last year which lead to the ouster of Islamist President Mohammad Mursi.

There is expected to be a high turnout in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where protests were staged last year demanding the “withdrawal of confidence” from then President Mursi.

Last year, a campaign saw mass protests calling for Mursi to step down exactly 12 months after he was inaugurated. The campaign, named Tamarod (Arabic for “rebellion”), accused Mursi of “threatening his own people” and rejected Muslim Brotherhood rule.

The protests led the then army chief Sisi to oust Mursi and announce the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as caretaker leader.

It has been a turbulent year for Egypt which has seen a new constitution and president be installed. Sisi resigned from the army and became a candidate in the presidential elections last month which he won by a landslide.

In a statement to the press on Monday, Cairo governor Dr. Mustafa Jalal al-Said has said that security forces will be on high alert throughout the day.

The last time large crowds gathered in the Square was during celebrations on Sisi’s inauguration day earlier this month. But the celebrations were mired by a sexual assault on a woman by a mob in the Square.

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