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Bomb kills 14 at Egypt's embassy


New Delhi

A suicide bomber crashed a car loaded with explosives into the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad yesterday, killing 14 people, including four diplomats, and injuring 59 others. An Egyptian Muslim militant organisation, el-Gamaa el-Islamiya (Islamic Group), claimed responsibility.

Witnesses said an accomplice set off a first explosion which blew open the embassy gate. Seconds later, a jeep packed with explosives roared into the compound and blew up. The force of the explosion was so great that a wall of the embassy crumbled instantly.

"I was standing outside the gate and the body of a police officer came flying over the wall and landed beside me," said Constable Mohammed Iqbal, a Pakistani security guard for the Egyptian ambassador, Mohammed Noman Galal, who had been dropped off at the embassy several minutes before. The ambassador was unhurt.

Most of the dead and injured werePakistanis queueing for visas, including women and children. The blast, which left a 10ft (3m) crater, was so powerful that over 30 people standing at ANZ Grindlay's bank across the road were also badly injured. "After the mild blast, many people came to the window to have a look. That's when the second blast went off," said a bank worker.

News agencies in Cairo received a message from the Islamic Group admitting the attack. This group reportedly was involved in the recent assassination attempt in Ethiopia on the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, and in the murder of an Egyptian diplomat in Geneva. Mr Mubarak condemned the bombing as a crime "in opposition to all spiritual and humanitarian values". The group is trying to disrupt Egyptian elections on 29 November.

Pakistan recently signed an extradition treaty with Egypt under which dozens of suspected terrorists have been expelled.