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Egypt: Interior minister defiant following assassination attempt - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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AEgyptian security forces gather at the scene of a bomb that targeted the convoy of Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim in Cairo on September 5, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

Egyptian security forces gather at the scene of a bomb that targeted the convoy of Egyptian interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim in Cairo on September 5, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim survived an assassination attempt that targeted his convoy in Cairo’s eastern Nasr City on Thursday, dubbing the attack the start of “a new wave of terrorism.”

He added, “What happened today is not the end, but the beginning.”

At least 21 people were injured in the roadside bomb planted near the minister’s residence, Egyptian interior ministry spokesperson Brig. Hani Abdullatif told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Abdullatif said: “Eleven civilians were injured in the explosion, including a seven-year-old child . . . whose leg was amputated, in addition to 10 policemen accompanying the minister.”

Abdullatif denied reports that two of the perpetrators were killed in an exchange of fire with police.

According to the interior ministry spokesman, a bomb was planted on the side of the road and detonated by remote control as the minister’s convoy passed by.

Amid controversy over the precise nature of the attack, the interior ministry spokesman confirmed that the explosion was a roadside bomb, denying reports that the attack was the result of a car bomb or a bomb thrown from a nearby building.

Brigadier Abdullatif said that the attack inflicted visible damage on the minister’s convoy.

Two hours after the explosion, Egypt’s state TV channel broadcast footage of Mohamed Ibrahim arriving at the interior ministry in central Cairo.

The minister, who appeared calm, warned of more terrorist attacks besetting Egypt, likening what happened to the previous wave of terrorism that hit the country during the 1980s and 1990s.

The interior minister did not rule out the involvement of foreign elements, coordinating with domestic parties, to create a state of terrorism in the country.

“Even if I am martyred, another interior minister will come and continue the war on this evil terrorism until we secure the country,” he said.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

Egypt’ prosecutor-general, Judge Hisham Barakat, directed the state security prosecution to immediately launch an investigation into the failed assassination attempt.

While Egypt’s interior ministry claimed that a bomb was planted at the side of the road, Egypt’s public prosecution service announced that initial examinations of the site of the attack have revealed that an explosive-laden car was remotely detonated.

A judicial source speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity claimed that “human remains were found at the scene and they are being identified,” opening up the possibility that the assassination attempt was a suicide attack.

Responding to the attack, interim president Adly Mansour’s office pledged it would “not allow the terrorism the Egyptian people crushed in the 1980s and 1990s to raise its ugly head again.”

For its part, the pro-Mursi Anti-Coup Alliance announced: “The alliance is against any violent act, even if it is against those who committed crimes against the people.”

The Islamist coalition added: “We expect that such incidents will be used to extend the state of emergency and to increase the use of oppression, repression and detention that have been used by the coup authority.”

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, military and strategic analyst Brig. Sameh Seif El-Yazal warned that the attack marks a new stage of extremist groups operating in Cairo and the rest of Egyptian provinces. They had previously been confined to the Sinai Peninsula.

“What is needed now is for the state of emergency to be extended for another three months and to be renewed until the situation stabilizes, while security agencies must also step up their efforts to comb the streets, main roads, highways and modes of transportation for explosives,” he said.