24 Jan 2014

Blasts rock Egyptian capital

10:05 pm on 24 January 2014

A car bomber has blown himself up outside the police headquarters in the centre of the Egyptian city of Cairo, according to officials.

At least four people were killed, including three police officers, with one report saying 51 people have been wounded.

Police guard the damaged facade of the police headquarters in Cairo.

Police guard the damaged facade of the police headquarters in Cairo. Photo: AFP

State television quoted witnesses as saying gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on buildings after the explosion on Friday.

The powerful blast was felt across Cairo and black smoke could be seen rising over the city centre. A second explosion was later heard in the city's Dokki district.

The explosions come on the eve of the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising that led to the removal of the country's decades-long ruler Hosni Mubarak, the BBC reports. No group has said it was behind the attacks.

Officials said a booby-trapped car exploded outside Cairo's security directorate. Gunfire was reportedly heard soon after the blast. More than 30 ambulances raced to the scene. Most of the wounded are now in hospital, the health ministry says.

State television showed footage of extensive damage to the large concrete building with debris strewn across the street. The nearby Islamic museum and the National Archives building were also damaged.

A BBC reporter in Cairo says the security directorate is a very significant target and should have been one of the best protected buildings in the city.

The banned Muslim Brotherhood and its partners are planning demonstrations after Friday prayers across the country.

They are the latest in a series of regular demonstrations against the overthrow in July last year of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Brotherhood supporters are also angry about recent moves to introduce a new constitution.