Egyptian convoy targeted in bombing
Sep 5, 2013 / 7:32 am
A bomb targeted the convoy of Egypt's interior minister Thursday in Cairo in the first attack on a senior government official since the country's Islamist president was toppled in a coup two months ago, raising concerns over a possible campaign of violence by his supporters.
The assassination attempt against Mohammed Ibrahim, who is in charge of the police force, signalled the arrival in the capital of the sort of insurgency-style attacks that have been escalating in the Sinai Peninsula.
Sinai has been roiled in unrest and lawlessness for years, but Islamic militants have carried out more frequent and deadlier attacks on security forces there since the July 3 ouster of President Mohammed Morsi.
The bombing also harkened back to the insurgency waged by Islamic militants in the 1980s and 1990s against the rule of now-ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. At that time, militants targeted several senior officials, killing the parliament speaker and nearly killing the then-interior minister. Mubarak himself survived an assassination attempt in 1994, when militants attacked his convoy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Some of Morsi's more hard-line supporters have publicly threatened to wage a campaign of assassinations and car bombings against officials of the military-backed government until the former president is reinstated.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday's blast, which went off in the late morning as Ibrahim's convoy passed through Nasr City, an eastern district of Cairo. The ministry did not immediately say where the bomb was planted.
Ibrahim survived the attack, but at least 22 people were wounded, including two policemen and a child seriously. An unidentified body that likely belonged to an attacker was found at the site of the attack, according to security officials.
Clearly shaken but unscathed, Ibrahim said on state television that his car, a black SUV, was directly hit by a "large-size explosive device" that badly damaged it along with four other vehicles in the convoy.
"It was a heinous (assassination) attempt," he later told reporters at the Interior Ministry in central Cairo. The explosive device, he added, likely was detonated by remote control. His comments were carried live on state television.
"Even if I am martyred, another minister of interior will come and continue the war on the evil terror until we secure the country," Ibrahim said.
The blast damaged stores and several cars parked on the street and shattered the windows of several nearby apartment buildings. The aftermath of the blast suggested a powerful explosion, with three badly damaged SUVs, including the minister's, and a small raging fire. The blast site was littered with the charred skeletons of cars and tree branches severed by the explosion. Shop fronts were mangled. Criminal investigators swarmed the site looking for forensic evidence.
Police searched the area for suspects but no immediate arrests were made, security officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
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