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)

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on