Two killed on Egypt's uprising anniversary

Two protesters were killed in Egypt and a bomb wounded two policemen on Sunday.

An Egyptian policeman tries to extinguish a police vehicle set on fire by Muslim Brotherhood supporters on a ring road in the capital, Cairo, on January 3, 2014 as thousands of protesters backing deposed president Mohamed Morsi rallied across the country before police moved in to disperse them, sparking clashes. Picture: AFP.

CAIRO - Two protesters were killed in Egypt and a bomb wounded two policemen on Sunday, the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, security sources said.

The anniversary is a test of whether Islamists and liberal activists facing one of Egypt's toughest security crackdowns have the resolve to challenge the US-backed government once again.

Security forces have been stamping out dissent in Egypt since then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted elected president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

Dozens of protesters were killed during last year's anniversary of the revolt. This time, security forces were taking no chances, fanning out across the capital and elsewhere.

A protester died on Sunday from birdshot wounds in Alexandria, Egypt's second biggest city, the security sources said. The Interior Ministry said the man had been armed. A Health Ministry official said the man was 52 years old.

A second protestor was killed by birdshot in the Cairo suburb of Matariya as hundreds of people demonstrated, security sources said.

Separately, a bomb targeted policemen stationed outside a Cairo sports club, the sources said.

In the Nile Delta region of Baheira, about 170km from Cairo, two militants were killed when bombs they were planting exploded, state television reported.

Riot police backed by soldiers in armoured vehicles sealed off strategic roads, including those leading to Cairo's Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the 2011 revolt.

In rare defiance, Morsi supporters gathered near Tahrir and held up photographs of him, a Reuters witness said. Police rounded them up.

Police were also dispatched to Rabaa Square in northeast Cairo, where hundreds of Morsi supporters were killed in August 2013 at a protest camp.

A curfew imposed in north Sinai had been extended for three months, authorities said. Islamist militants based in the Sinai Peninsula have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since Morsi's removal.

After four years of political and economic turmoil following Mubarak's fall, many Egyptians have overlooked allegations of widespread human rights abuses and praised Sisi for restoring a measure of stability.

Sisi, who served as military intelligence chief under Mubarak, also took bold steps to repair the economy, such as cutting costly fuel subsidies.

But there have been signs of discontent in the run-up to the anniversary of the 18-day revolt.

"The situation is the same as it was four years ago and it is getting worse. The regime did not fall yet," said engineer Alaa Lasheen, 34.

In a televised address on Saturday, Sisi praised the desire for change that Egyptians showed four years ago but said it would take patience to achieve all of "the revolution's goals".

Sisi says his government is committed to democracy. Human rights groups accuse him of restoring authoritarian rule to Egypt, a strategic US ally influential across the Arab world.

Opponents say new laws, including one restricting protests, have rolled back freedoms won in the uprising that ended three decades of iron-fisted rule under Mubarak.