Egypt’s Pres­i­dent Sa­dat as­sas­si­nated

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Pres­i­dent Sa­dat of Egypt has died af­ter be­ing shot by gunmen who opened fire as he watched an aerial dis­play at a mil­i­tary parade.

A num­ber of other dig­ni­taries in­clud­ing for­eign diplo­mats were killed or se­ri­ously wounded.

The Egyp­tian au­thor­i­ties have de­clared a state of emer­gency.

Pres­i­dent Sa­dat was at­tend­ing the eighth an­niver­sary of the Yom Kip­pur war with Is­rael as Field Mar­shal of the armed forces.

He had taken the salute, laid a wreath and was watching a dis­play from the Egyp­tian Air Force when two grenades ex­ploded.

Gunmen then leapt from a mil­i­tary truck in front of the pres­i­den­tial re­view­ing stand and ran towards the spec­ta­tors, rak­ing of­fi­cials with au­to­matic gun­fire.

De­spite typ­i­cally large num­bers of se­cu­rity per­son­nel for the cer­e­mo­nial oc­ca­sion, eye­wit­nesses say the at­tack­ers were able to keep shoot­ing for well over a minute.

By the time the pres­i­dent’s body­guards re­turned fire at least ten peo­ple lay se­ri­ously in­jured or dead in­side the stand.

Se­cu­rity forces then shot and killed two of the at­tack­ers and over­pow­ered the rest, as crowds of mil­i­tary and civil­ian spec­ta­tors scram­bled for cover.

Pres­i­dent Sa­dat was air­lifted by he­li­copter to a mil­i­tary hospi­tal. He is be­lieved to have died about two hours later.

The pre­ci­sion with which the at­tack was co­or­di­nated has prompted sus­pi­cions that the at­tack­ers ben­e­fited from high-level in­tel­li­gence and sup­port.

A group call­ing it­self the Independent Or­gan­i­sa­tion for the Lib­er­a­tion of Egypt says it car­ried out the at­tack but the claim has not been ver­i­fied.

Re­ac­tion to Pres­i­dent's Sa­dat's death has been mixed.

Pres­i­dent Rea­gan con­demned An­war Sa­dat’s death as an act of in­famy. He said: “Amer­ica has lost a great friend, the world has lost a great states­man, and mankind has lost a cham­pion of peace.”

But many have been cel­e­brat­ing the news. In Libya, Tripoli ra­dio said ev­ery tyrant has an end, as thou­sands took to the streets of the cap­i­tal in ju­bi­la­tion.

Nei­ther has the Pales­tinian Lib­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion con­demned the as­sas­si­na­tion. Na­bil Ram­lawi, a PLO of­fi­cial, said: “We were ex­pect­ing this end of Pres­i­dent Sa­dat be­cause we are sure he was against the in­ter­ests of his peo­ple, the Arab na­tions and the Pales­tinian peo­ple.”

Pres­i­dent Sa­dat was the first Arab leader to recog­nise the state of Is­rael since its cre­ation in 1948.

Although pop­u­lar in the West for his ef­forts at rap­proche­ment with Is­rael, his poli­cies dis­mayed much of the Arab world.

Un­der Pres­i­dent Sa­dat, Egypt signed the Camp David ac­cords with Is­rael in 1978 out­lin­ing “the frame­work for peace in the Mid­dle East”. This in­cluded lim­ited au­ton­omy for Pales­tini­ans.

A his­toric bi­lat­eral Egyp­tian-Is­raeli peace treaty was signed the fol­low­ing year. Arab states boy­cotted Egypt for break­ing ranks and ne­go­ti­at­ing a sep­a­rate treaty with Is­rael.

Fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent Sa­dat’s as­sas­si­na­tion, more than 700 peo­ple were rounded up.

Twenty-five faced a se­cret trial, five of whom were then ex­e­cuted, and 17 oth­ers given prison sen­tences and hard labour.

Vice-Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak suc­ceeded Pres­i­dent Sa­dat as head of state.

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