A bomb attack in a busy upscale Cairo suburb targeted the convoy of Egypt’s prosecutor general on Monday morning, a security official said. The prosecutor survived the assassination attempt but was wounded, along with his two guards and a civilian.
The attack came as Egyptian security forces went on high alert on the eve of the second anniversary of massive anti-Islamist demonstrations that paved the way, days later, for the military’s ouster of Egypt’s Islamic President Mohammed Morsi.
The bomb struck shortly after State Prosecutor Hisham Barakat left his house in the busy eastern Heliopolis suburb, heading to his downtown office, said the security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
Egypt’s state news agency MENA said Barakat was wounded in the attack, along with two guards and a civilian. The prosecutor was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, state TV reported, adding that he was undergoing medical tests to check for internal bleeding.
The TV also said the bomb contained a large amount of explosives and was detonated by remote control. Security forces cordoned off the area while explosive experts searched for other possible devices, MENA said.
Footage from the scene of the blast showed several cars charred and wrecked from the explosion, as black smoke rose from the site. Several trees had caught fire and firefighters were dousing the area to extinguish the flames.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Millions of Egyptians took to the streets two years ago on June 30, demanding that the Islamist Morsi step down over allegations that he abused power in favor of his Muslim Brotherhood group. The rallies continued until days later, the military stepped in, removed Morsi from power and jailed him at an unknown location.
Morsi’s supporters responded mass protests that frequently descended into violence, and the military-backed government cracked down heavily on them, killing hundreds and detaining tens of thousands.
Since then, authorities have carried out mass trials and handed down death sentences to hundreds of suspects. This has brought the Egyptian judiciary and officials under international criticism. They have also been targeted in attacks by Islamic militants.
The attack on Barakat is the first major assassination attempt on a high government official since the 2013 suicide bombing targeting the then-interior minister Mohammed Ibrahim. Egypt’s main Islamic militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis — which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group fighting in Iraq and Syria — has claimed responsibility for that attack.
Now known as Sinai Province, the group has claimed responsibility for most of the country’s major suicide bombings and assassinations. On Sunday, it released a video of a May attack that killed three judges in the northern Sinai Peninsula city of el-Arish — the group’s main base. The Sinai attack came on the same day as an Egyptian court sentenced Morsi to death over a mass prison break during 2011 uprising that eventually brought him to power.
That was Morsi’s first death sentence but he is also facing several other trials on charges that carry the death penalty.