Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 October 2019

Egypt says it has identified man behind hospital car bomb

Police have killed 17 militants linked to Sunday's deadly blast outside cancer hospital

Egypt said on Thursday it has identified the Muslim militant who drove an explosives-laden car against oncoming traffic in central Cairo. EPA
Egypt said on Thursday it has identified the Muslim militant who drove an explosives-laden car against oncoming traffic in central Cairo. EPA

Egypt on Thursday said it identified the militant who drove an explosives-laden car into oncoming traffic in central Cairo last weekend before his cargo detonated, killing 20 people and wounding nearly 50.

The Interior Ministry also said security forces killed 17 militants associated with the driver in three shootouts in Cairo, and in the Fayoum province south-west of the capital.

The militants and the driver belonged to Hasm, a breakaway faction linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, the ministry said.

It identified the driver as Abdel Rahman Abdel Rahman, 24, a native of Fayoum who had been wanted by military prosecutors over a terrorist case involving Hasm. The ministry said he was identified through DNA testing.

The government released video footage that purports to show Abdel Rahman bidding farewell to his family outside a city park the day before the blast, suggesting that he had intended to stage a suicide attack.

Authorities initially said the blast, which occurred at 11.30pm on Sunday, was caused by a car colliding with three other vehicles as it moved against traffic in a one-way street.

But witnesses said the blast and a subsequent fire were so powerful that they could not have been caused by a collision.

Authorities changed the story on Monday, saying the car was meant for use in a terror attack elsewhere, but did not say whether the driver detonated his cargo or it went off prematurely.

They said the car was stolen several months ago from a Nile Delta province.

Sunday's blast was the deadliest terror incident in Cairo since a suicide bomber struck at a Christian chapel in December 2016, killing 30 people.

That attack was claimed by ISIS, which is leading a years-long insurgency in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula.

Sunday's incident has raised questions about security in the capital, particularly on how a stolen car loaded with explosives could go unchallenged to the heart of a heavily policed city, complete with checkpoints and security cameras.

The ministry said on Thursday that security forces killed 15 of the 17 militants in a deserted building in the Fayoum desert and in an eastern suburb of Cairo.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi was the country's military chief when he led the removal in 2013 of Mohammed Morsi, a president from the Muslim Brotherhood, whose one year in office was divisive.

Morsi, who died in prison this year, was ousted from office amid mass protests against his rule.

That was followed by a far-reaching, continuing crackdown aimed at dismantling the group.

Hasm has been blamed for terrorist attacks that began shortly after Morsi's removal.

Updated: August 9, 2019 01:26 AM

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