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Violence flares in Egypt as presidential election nears

A bystander throws a tear gas canister that came back from the al-Azhar University campus after the canister was originally shot by the Egyptian security forces towards protesters at the school in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, May 2, 2014. Supporters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi continue to protest in the streets as retired Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led last year's overthrow of Morsi, appears poised to win in the presidential election planned this month. (AP Photo/Mohammed Abu Zaid)

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By The Associated Press
Friday, May 2, 2014, 6:12 p.m.

CAIRO — Suicide bombings in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula hit a police checkpoint and a passenger bus, and two Cairo bombings, including one targeting police, killed at least five people Friday, a day before the start of campaigning in the country's presidential election.

In the May 26-27 election, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the now-retired army chief who led last summer's overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsy, appears poised to win on a wave of nationalistic fervor. Posters by his supporters around Cairo tout el-Sissi as a strongman in “the fight against terror” — a reference to a wave of Islamic militant attacks that have escalated since Morsy's ouster.

The violence first flared in Sinai, where several al-Qaida-inspired groups have long operated, but in past months it has moved into Egypt's heartland in the Nile Delta and into the capital, Cairo — mainly in the form of crude but often lethal bombings of positions of police or soldiers.

Militant groups have said the attacks are in retaliation for the ferocious security crackdown since Morsy's ouster that has killed hundreds of his Islamist supporters and arrested thousands more.

Morsy's backers have continued in protests against the interim government, often leading to bloodshed. On Friday, clashes erupted between Morsy supporters and locals backing security forces in Cairo and the country's second largest city, Alexandria, leaving two protesters dead and five wounded, according to security officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to brief journalists. The Interior Ministry said that police arrested 42 people during protests across the country in the course of the day, 27 of them in Alexandria.

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