London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Former Egyptian Army Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Anan said an assassination attempt “did take place” in comments to Asharq Al-Awsat as Egypt’s Interior Ministry and some political forces inside the country dismissed his claim as false and part of a stunt ahead of presidential elections.
Unknown armed assailants in two cars reportedly pursued Anan in Cairo on Monday, firing on the car he was in. Anan’s office released a statement confirming that he survived the assassination attempt unscathed. The statement quoted Anan as saying that the failed attempt would not deter him from running in the forthcoming presidential elections.
But Egypt’s Interior Ministry denied that Anan had been the target of an assassination attempt, with the former army chief coming in for criticism from some parties following his claims after he failed to notify authorities of the attempt on his life.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Hani Abdullatif said that Egypt’s security authorities had not been informed of any attempted assassination on Anan. He added: “The security services went down [to the site of the alleged crime] and exposed the issue and revealed the lack of truth in these reports.”
Anan confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that he had been subject to a dramatic car chase and assassination attempt on Monday, escaping unscathed, adding that his personal guards had identified the “terrorists” who sought to kill him.
“This is not the first time that these [terrorist] elements have sought to target me,” he said, adding that he will reveal all the details about the assassination attempt in the near future.
“I am well and I know who this group that is always following me are. I will reveal all the details about this,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Egypt’s ex-army chief is expected to announce a presidential bid soon, with only Nasserite Hamdeen Sabbahi officially announcing his presidential candidacy so far. Speaking about the alleged assassination attempt, Sabbahi told local media: “Sami Anan is trying to emerge on the scene once again, but he is using the methods of 1960s cinema.”
Egypt’s powerful Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is also expected to announce a presidential bid soon, with most analysts expecting him to win any popular vote. Anan has come in for criticism from some parties for seeking to compete with a presumed Sisi presidential bid.
Tamarod Movement spokesman Mohamed Nabawy dismissed the report of the attempted assassination, claiming that it had been fabricated by Anan’s office.
Former Egyptian MP Hamdi Al-Fakharani also dismissed the reports, describing Anan’s claims as a “failed electoral stunt.”
Additional reporting by Sawsan Abu-Husain.