Middle East

Two Egyptian policemen killed defusing bombs

Egyptian security forces inspect the scene after two bombs went off near the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt Image copyright AP
Image caption Egyptian security forces inspect the scene after the explosions near the presidential palace

Two Egyptian policemen have been killed trying to defuse bombs that exploded near the presidential palace in Cairo, interior ministry officials say.

The first blast killed one officer and injured three others. An hour later the other officer was killed.

Islamist militants said they had planted bombs in the area last week.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi promised swift "retribution" for the two deaths on the first anniversary of his rise to power.

Mass opposition protests a year ago culminated three days later in the military overthrowing President Muhammad Morsi.

In his recorded speech President Sisi referred to the dead policemen by saying: "I pledge before God and their families, the state will get just and speedy retribution."

Correspondents say that the dead bomb disposal experts were a police colonel and lieutenant colonel who were killed outside the Ittihadeya presidential palace in east Cairo.

Cairo's security chief told BBC Arabic that the head of the bomb-disposal department, Gen Alaa Abdel Zaher, was among those injured by Monday's explosions.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Several people were injured in the blasts
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Bomb disposal experts searched the area outside the presidential palace for much of Monday
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Bombings and shootings by Islamist militants have left hundreds of security personnel dead since Mr Morsi was ousted on 3 July last year

The militant Ajnad Misr group, or Soldiers of Egypt, is reported to have said that it planted several bombs near the presidential palace to target security forces.

It said that it did so without realising that civilians could be in danger and later said that it was not able to remove them, warning passers-by to be aware of the danger.

"There are two explosive devices... At the corner of the palace at the intersection of al-Ahram and al-Merghani streets," the statement on the militants' Twitter account is reported to have said.

Meanwhile, the civil defence deputy chief said security forces were also defusing two other bombs found outside the presidential palace.

Bombings and shootings by Islamist militants have left hundreds of security personnel dead since Mr Morsi was ousted on 3 July.

The militants have stepped up attacks in response to the crackdown on Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, in which more than 1,400 people have been killed.