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)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?