An explosion in Cairo on Monday killed three policemen who were chasing a man believed to have planted an explosive device last week near a mosque, Egypt’s interior ministry said.
“As security surrounded the man and was set to arrest and control him, an explosive device in his possession went off,” the ministry said.
The blast in the crowded Darb al-Ahmar district in downtown Cairo also killed the bomber and injured three other policemen.
The man was being pursued as part of “efforts to search for the perpetrator” responsible for planting an explosive device near security staff close to a mosque in Giza on Friday, the ministry said.
Security had been able to defuse that device, the ministry said.
Monday’s explosion took place near Al Azhar mosque at the heart of ancient Islamic Cairo, damaging several shops.
The site was cordoned off and reporters were not immediately allowed access to the area.
“My shop’s front and windows were destroyed,” said Kareem Sayed Awad, a barbershop owner. “Not only that, but people have died. This is a tourist area and such incidents affect it.”
Egypt’s tourism industry has been struggling to recover from attacks and domestic instability that has hit the country in the years following a 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt has also for years been battling an extremist insurgency, which deepened following military’s ousting of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
The attacks have been mainly concentrated in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula but have also spread to the mainland.
In February 2018, security forces launched a major anti-militant operation focused on the Sinai Peninsula, aimed at wiping out a local affiliate of ISIS.
On Saturday, an attack on an Egyptian army checkpoint in north Sinai left 15 soldiers dead or wounded and seven of the suspected extremist assailants killed, according to the military.