CAIRO (AP) — A bomb blast on a bridge leading to an upscale neighborhood in central Cairo killed a policeman and wounded at least two passers-by on Sunday, hours after Egyptian security forces killed the leader of an extremist group that claimed responsibility, police said.
An Associated Press reporter saw a mangled corpse hanging out of a truck on the bridge, which spans the Nile River connecting the Giza district to the wealthy island neighborhood of Zamalek, where many embassies are located.
Dozens of people gathered at the scene, some yelling in outrage, others in fear or grief. Several cars were stopped in traffic with their windows blown out.
"All of a sudden a bomb exploded and there was lots of smoke," said Ahmed Hussein, an eyewitness who was on the bridge at the time of the blast and saw the policeman killed. "His body was torn apart," he said.
Maj. Gen. Ihab Roushdy, deputy police chief in Cairo's western district, said a pickup truck from outside the city stopped near the policeman's post to ask directions. The explosion then went off, killing the policeman and wounding a man in the passenger seat and a woman who was climbing stairs up to the bridge.
"This will not break our will. We will continue to fight terrorism," Roushdy told reporters at the scene of the blast, as bomb squads combed the area and police cordoned it off.
Extremist group Ajnad Misr, or Soldiers of Egypt, claimed responsibility for the bombing in a message posted on a Twitter account it uses, the SITE intelligence group said. Security officials said they were aware of the claim and investigating.
Later in the day, a security official said troops had killed Ajnad Misr's leader and founder in a shootout at a Cairo apartment at dawn. Security forces had been following the movements of Hammam Mohamed Attia, 33, and surrounded the residential high-rise building in a busy neighborhood before raiding it, he added.
Security forces found explosives and firearms in the apartment in Giza, the western part of greater Cairo, he said. He and the other security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information otherwise.
Attacks mainly targeting Egyptian security forces have spiked since the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi following massive protests against his divisive rule. Militant groups say they are avenging a security crackdown on Islamists, while authorities blame Morsi supporters for the violence.
The bombings in Cairo have mainly consisted of small, homemade explosives that cause few casualties. They have hit civilian areas, including Cairo's leafy Maadi suburb, where many foreigners live, but such incidents are extremely rare in Zamalek.
In the restive Sinai peninsula, security officials said militants have killed a conscript kidnapped last Thursday in the course of a wave of attacks on security forces that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers and three civilians. The Islamic State's branch in Egypt claimed responsibility for the series of attacks on Friday, the latest in a series of large-scale assaults by the Sinai-based militant branch. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists, said the militants killed the soldier by shooting him in the head.
Last week Ajnad Misr claimed responsibility for another bombing in front of Cairo University that wounded eight people, including four police officers. Another two bombs exploded Saturday, also nearby in Giza, leaving craters but causing no casualties.
Associated Press writers Sarah El Deeb in Cairo and Ashraf Sweilam in El-Arish, Egypt contributed to this report.