Bomb blast in Cairo after female protester is shot dead

Shaimaa El Sabagh, a 32-year-old mother of one from the port city of Alexandria, was shot dead during a rare left-wing protest in downtown Cairo the night before.

Shaimaa El Sabagh, the mother of a five-year-old boy, was shot dead during a protest in Cairo on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak. Family Handout/AFP Photo
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CAIRO // A bomb blast wounded a policeman in Cairo on Sunday, as Egypt tightened security on the fourth anniversary of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

Access to the city’s iconic Tahrir Square was closed after a female activist was shot dead during a rare left-wing protest in downtown Cairo the night before.

Shaimaa El Sabagh, a 32-year-old mother of one from the city of Alexandria, died of birdshot wounds, a health ministry spokesman said.

Fellow protesters said she was hit by birdshot when police fired to disperse the peaceful march. Egypt’s prosecutor has launched an investigation into her death.

Videos posted online show Ms El Sabagh, a member of the leftist Popular Alliance party, marching with other protesters carrying placards and chanting “bread, freedom and social justice”, the chief slogan of the 2011 uprising. Activists carried wreaths of roses they intended to place at Tahrir Square – the epicentre of the revolt against Mubarak – in memory of the fallen protesters.

In the videos, gunshots ring out and El Sabagh falls. She is later shown being carried by a male demonstrator as blood seeped out of her mouth.

An 18-year-old female protester was also killed on Friday in clashes in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

Meanwhile, the interior ministry said Sunday’s bomb exploded in eastern Cairo’s Alf Maskan neighbourhood, where a similar blast on Friday wounded four policemen and a civilian. That blast was claimed by extremist militant group Ajnad Misr.

Security officials said a number of roadside bombs had been discovered in Cairo and a string of other cities that were intended to be detonated on Sunday.

Police have warned they would “decisively” confront protests that have been called against Egypt’s current president Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

Mr El Sisi, Egypt’s former army chief, toppled Mubarak’s successor Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 and has since led a crackdown on Morsi supporters that has left hundreds dead.

Extremist militants have regularly targeted security forces since Morsi’s ouster, killing scores of policemen and soldiers.

The revolt against Mubarak erupted on January 25, 2011, with hundreds of thousands of protesters taking to the streets across Egypt for 18 days until he stepped down.

The uprising was fuelled by police abuses and the corruption of the former president’s three-decade rule.

* Agence France-Presse, Associated Press and Bloomberg