CAIRO (AP) — Attacks by suicide bombers in a town in Egypt's restive Sinai Peninsula and a separate bombing near a courthouse in Cairo killed at least four people Friday, authorities said, the latest violence ahead of the country's coming presidential election.
The May election comes as retired Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led last year's overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, appears poised to win on a wave of nationalistic fervor as campaigning officially will begin Saturday. Morsi supporters meanwhile continue to protest in the streets, with their demonstrations Friday seeing two people killed.
In the Sinai town of el-Tor, one suicide bomber dressed in traditional Bedouin clothes blew himself up at an army checkpoint shortly after dawn, killing one soldier and wounding five, military spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said in a statement. Egypt's Health Ministry said two people were killed in the attack. The discrepancy could not be immediately resolved.
The second bomber blew himself up in front of a bus, killing one passenger and wounding three, authorities said. Officials said they would analyze DNA from the bombers' remains to identify them.
In Cairo's eastern Heliopolis suburb, a crude bomb exploded inside a police post, killing an officer and wounding three others, state media reported.
The Cabinet issued a statement saying it mourned the victims and vowing that "these cowardly attacks will only increase the determination of the police and the military ... to continue their honorable battle to defeat the darkness of terrorism, chase the criminal elements away and bring back security and safety to Egypt."
Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawky Allam also condemned Friday's attacks, saying in a statement that "every terrorist is doing an injustice to himself and to others and will not be immune from God's punishment."
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. However, Egypt has been under increasing attack from militants following the July 3 ouster of Morsi. Egypt's military-backed interim government has responded by killing hundreds and arresting thousands of members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group.
The government has branded the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, something the Islamist group denies.
Hours after Friday's attacks, clashes erupted between Morsi supporters and locals backing security forces in Cairo and the country's second largest city of Alexandria. The clashes killed two protesters and wounded five as police arrested 12 people, a security official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to brief journalists.
Until Friday, the Sinai had seen a few months' lull in attacks. The military is waging a major offensive aimed at driving out insurgents who took control of several towns and villages in the peninsula's north.
A Sinai-based, al-Qaida inspired group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or Champions of Jerusalem, has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks. In a recent audio message, al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri also gave his approval for attacks on police and military in Egypt, but urged militants to avoid civilian casualties so as not to draw public anger.
Meanwhile, a Cairo-based militant group called Ajnad Misr or "Egypt's Soldiers" has claimed responsibility for several smaller attacks that targeted mostly police officers.
Associated Press writer Ashraf Sweilam in El-Arish, Egypt, contributed to this report.