CAIRO, Sept 05, 2013 (AFP)
CAIRO, Sept 05, 2013 (AFP)
Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim on Thursday survived a bomb attack on his convoy, emerging unscathed to warn the country faced a “wave of terrorism” amid a sweeping police crackdown on Islamists.
Security officials said a car bomb struck the minister’s convoy around 10:30 am (0830 GMT) near his home in the Nasr City area, in the first such attack in Cairo in years.
The attack, which comes as the security forces press a clampdown on loyalists of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, has sparked fears of a resurgence of the Islamist militant assaults that plagued Egypt in the 1990s.
The interior ministry said Ibrahim’s convoy was targeted by a “bomb,” without providing further details.
An official in the health ministry said seven people were wounded in the blast, while an interior ministry official said four policemen were injured, including one who lost his leg in the explosion.
Ibrahim emerged on state television hours after the attack to condemn the “cowardly assassination attempt”, saying his convoy was targeted by a bomb that wounded “many guards”.
He told reporters he had warned of such violence after the launch on August 14 of a crackdown on Islamists who had set up camps in Cairo to protest the army’s removal of Morsi on July 3.
“I had warned before the dispersal of sit-ins in Rabaa and Nahda that there will be a wave of terrorism. This was expected,” Ibrahim said.
The cabinet pledged to “strike with an iron hand those who threaten national security”.
State news agency MENA said police immediately closed all access roads to the interior ministry in central Cairo after the blast.
An AFP correspondent at the site said several cars were damaged in the explosion, while police closed access to the area.
State television broadcast footage showing massive damage to the front of a building at the site of the blast.
An Islamist coalition headed by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood denounced the bombing.
“The bombing should be condemned irrespective of the perpetrators,” the Anti-Coup Alliance said, citing one of its senior members.
Hundreds of Islamist protesters were killed in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares when police stormed the protest camps on August 14.
More than 100 policemen have been killed in violence during and after the crackdown.
Morsi’s supporters were demanding his reinstatement after the military overthrew him following massive street protests against his one-year rule.
The Muslim Brotherhood and allied groups have said they are committed to peaceful protests, but analysts have said rogue Islamists could start a campaign of bombings and attacks.
The military and police are already battling an insurgency in the Sinai peninsula, a haven for hardcore militants inspired by the Al-Qaeda militant group.
On Thursday, militants killed a policeman in Sinai and shot dead a soldier near the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya, security sources said.
Attacks have also taken place in the populated Nile Delta and in Cairo. Two civilians were wounded in a blast on Monday when assailants hurled a bomb at a police station in Cairo.
On July 24, a policeman was killed when a bomb went off at station in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura.
Egypt faced a wave of bombings and shootings in the 1990s linked to an attempted Islamist insurgency that also targeted the then interior minister in a failed assassination attempt.
Security services crushed the militants, killing or imprisoning the commanders of the Islamist groups.