Explosions rock Cairo University campus in Egypt

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CAIRO (CNN) — An Egyptian police brigadier general was killed and five others were injured in bombings Wednesday outside Cairo University, the Interior Ministry said.

Three blasts rocked the area outside the main gate of the university campus — the first two in quick succession and a third a little later.

Hundreds of police and security officials cordoned off the area, where forensic experts and sniffer dogs were brought in to investigate. Ambulances also arrived on the scene.

Attacks targeting security forces have become increasingly common in Egypt since the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood in July following mass protests against his rule.

In a statement, the Interior Ministry said Brig. Gen. Tariq al-Mirgawi, police chief of the criminal unit in West Giza, was killed in the blasts.

“Experts determined that the two explosive devices were planted in one of the trees in the area,” the ministry said, adding that an investigation was under way.

A security source within the ministry told CNN the bombs appeared to be “homemade.”

Internal strife

State-run Nile TV said the first explosions took place near an engineering facility at the university. It later reported that a car loaded with TNT explosive material was discovered outside the campus. Security forces were dealing with it.

The blasts caused part of a building to collapse, state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported. A CNN team outside the cordoned area could see a vehicle being removed from the scene.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab called an emergency meeting of the Cabinet’s security committee.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Islamist militants have carried out similar operations in a fast-growing insurgency threatening Egypt, which will hold presidential elections on May 26-27.

Egypt has faced unending turmoil since the uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Since Morsy’s ouster, the country has suffered the worst internal strife in its modern history. Morsy and other Brotherhood leaders were rounded up soon after his removal from office.

Battleground

In recent weeks, the area around the university has become a battleground for clashes between police and Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Cairo’s military-installed government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. It accuses the movement of supporting attacks against the police and army — an allegation the Brotherhood denies.

Since Morsy’s ouster, more than 1,000 people have been killed and thousands of members have been detained in a crackdown by the interim authorities.

The government says militants have killed almost 500 people in the same time period, most of them police and soldiers.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the general who toppled Morsy, is expected to win the May presidential vote easily.

The officer is popular among Egyptians who supported the army’s decision to remove Morsy from power a year into his term — seeing el-Sisi as the kind of strongman needed to end the turmoil dogging the Arab world’s most populous nation.

But el-Sisi is reviled by the Islamist opposition, which sees him as the mastermind of a coup against an elected leader and the author of a fierce crackdown on dissent.

CNN’s Schams Elwazer, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Heba Fahmy and Neda Farshbaf contributed to this report.

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