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Violence flares in Egypt as presidential vote nears

A protester tossed back tear gas during a clash with Egyptian security forces at al-Azhar University on Friday.

Mohammed Abu Zaid/Associated Press

A protester tossed back tear gas during a clash with Egyptian security forces at al-Azhar University on Friday.

CAIRO — Suicide bombings in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula hit a police checkpoint and a passenger bus, and a bombing targeted police in Cairo in new violence that killed at least four 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 Mohammed Morsi, appears poised to win on a wave of nationalistic fervor. Posters by his supporters around Cairo tout Sissi as a strongman in ‘‘the fight against terror’’ — a reference to a wave of Islamist militant attacks that have escalated since Morsi’s ouster.

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The violence first flared in Sinai, where several Al Qaeda-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 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 Morsi’s ouster that has killed hundreds of his Islamist supporters and arrested thousands more.

The Interior Ministry said that police arrested 42 people.

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