Egyptian leader wounded in attack: Four die as minister in charge of cracking down on Islamic extremists becomes a target for assassination

EGYPT'S Interior Minister, Hassan al-Alfi, the man appointed to crack down on the most serious wave of anti-government violence by Islamic extremists, was himself the target of an assassination attempt yesterday.

The attack, in which four people died, demonstrates that, despite the harsh police methods deployed over the past months, the round-ups of thousands of suspects and the hanging of at least 15 men convicted of plotting to overthrow the government by force, the Islamic extremists can still mobilise sufficient resources to strike at the heart of the state.

Security sources said that the attackers first exploded a bomb by remote control in Cairo's Sheikh Rihan street near the entrance to the Interior Ministry, forcing the minister's car and the car of his bodyguards to stop. They then raked the stationary vehicles with bullets.

Later, state television showed the minister in hospital after recovering consciousness from an emergency operation. He was lying on his back, his ear bandaged and his right arm in plaster, and spoke in a hoarse voice.

Mr Alfi, 57, was appointed in April to head Egypt's huge internal security apparatus after his predecessor, Abdel-Halim Moussa, revealed publicly that he had met Muslim scholars trying to mediate between the government and the militants.

But Mr Alfi's four months in office have seen some of the most dramatic events in the last year and a half of political violence which has killed more than 175 people and injured 300.

Four nail bombs, which militants denied planting, killed 16 people and injured 60 in May and June. The government, determined to show no mercy, hanged 15 militants in June and July.

The militants have organised a long series of attempts to kill senior police officers and government officials, almost always hitting them when they are at their most vulnerable - in their cars on the street.

In April, Muslim militants ambushed the car of the Information Minister, Sawfat Sharif, as he left home, wounding him in the hand.

Last month, gunmen ambushed an army general's car in Cairo, hoping he was the general in charge of the military courts that condemned their comrades to death. Earlier this month, gunmen shot dead the deputy police chief of Qena province as his car waited at a level crossing.

The holder of the interior ministry has long been a top target for militants. In May 1987, gunmen shot and wounded former interior minister Hassan Abu Pasha, who had led a crackdown on militants. Mr Pasha visited Mr Alfi in hospital yesterday.

In December 1989, the then interior minister, Zaki Badr, narrowly escaped death when a pick-up truck packed with explosives blew up near his car.

Gunmen killed parliament's speaker, Rifaat Maghoub, and five others in October 1990. On Saturday, an Egyptian court acquitted 24 Muslim militants of his murder. Maghoub was the most important Egyptian official to be assassinated since militants shot dead President Anwar Sadat at a military parade in 1981.

(Photograph omitted)

More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
footballBut the Newcastle United midfielder's news has 'left his mistress furious'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style