CAIRO – Gunmen killed six soldiers at a Cairo checkpoint Saturday in a brazen morning attack the military blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood movement of deposed president Mohammed Morsi.
The attack came two days after gunmen killed a soldier in Cairo, as militants once largely confined to the restive Sinai Peninsula increasingly target the capital in a campaign that has killed more than 200 police and soldiers since the army overthrew Morsi last July.
The assailants on Saturday opened fire on military policemen as they finished their morning prayers and then planted two bombs to target first responders, the military said in a statement.
Live television footage showed military sappers safely detonating one of the bombs near the checkpoint in the northern Cairo neighborhood of Shubra al-Kheima.
An Egyptian private television station quoted an interior ministry official as saying one of the bombs left behind was planted next to a soldier’s corpse.
Officials initially said five soldiers had been killed, then amended the figure.
Most of the attacks since Morsi’s ouster have taken place in the Sinai, but in recent months militants have expanded their reach to the Nile Delta and the capital.
The government has blamed much of the attacks on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which renounced violence decades ago and has denied any involvement.
The most prominent attacks, including a car bombing at a police headquarters in Cairo and the downing of a military helicopter in Sinai, have been claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem), a Sinai-based jihadist movement.
The group has said the attacks are in retaliation for a brutal government crackdown on Morsi’s Islamist supporters, which Amnesty International says has claimed some 1,400 lives.
Morsi was elected in Egypt’s first-ever democratic presidential election, following the 2011 uprising that toppled long-ruling dictator Hosni Mubarak.
But his year in power bitterly polarised Egyptians, and last summer the military ousted him amid massive street protests demanding his overthrow.