CAIRO—A powerful explosion rocked the Egyptian city of Alexandria early Saturday, killing a policeman and wounding four others in an attack targeting a senior security official just days ahead of the country’s presidential election.
A bomb placed under a parked car exploded when Alexandria’s security chief was passing in a convoy and survived the attack, the Interior Ministry said.
The bombing has shaken Egypt’s national security ahead of next week’s presidential election in which President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi faces only a token opponent, as he attempts to secure a renewed mandate for his rule.
Mr. Sisi, a former general, has positioned himself as a force for stability in the wider Middle East, but his government has struggled to stop attacks by Islamic State militants based in the northern Sinai Peninsula.
The explosion went off late on Saturday morning. The one fatality was the driver of a vehicle in the security chief’s convoy, according to state-owned newspaper Al Ahram. The four people injured were members of the security forces, the newspaper said.
Witnesses said the blast shattered windows, damaged parked cars, and could be heard several neighborhoods away.
Mobile phone images sent to The Wall Street Journal by Alexandria residents showed the burning wreckage of a car and a plume of smoke.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing. In recent years, Islamic State’s branch in Egypt has waged a lethal campaign of attacks targeting security forces and civilians, killing hundreds of people including foreign tourists and members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority.
The attacks have posed a challenge to Mr. Sisi, who promised Egyptians security after he led the military coup that ousted elected Islamist president Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.
Bombings and shooting attacks increased in frequency and intensity when a local insurgent group in the Sinai Peninsula swore allegiance to Islamic State in 2014.
Mr. Sisi urged the armed forces to use “brute force” to stamp out the insurgency after Islamic State gunmen killed more than 300 people at a Sinai Mosque in November 2017. A military offensive against the insurgents is ongoing.
On March 22, Islamic State supporters distributed a statement online calling for a campaign against democracy before Egypt’s presidential election. A message distributed on Islamic State-linked channels on the social media app Telegram urged followers to “reveal the truth about this disbelieving religion” but didn’t specify what action they should take.