Egyp­tian state pros­e­cu­tor killed in Cairo bomb at­tack af­ter ji­hadist plea

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY HAITHAM EL-TABEI AND SAMER AL- ATRUSH

Egypt’s state pros­e­cu­tor has died hours af­ter a pow­er­ful bomb hit his con­voy in Cairo on Mon­day, of­fi­cials said, fol­low­ing ji­hadist calls for at­tacks on the ju­di­ciary to pun­ish a crack­down on Is­lamists.

“He has passed away,” Jus­tice Min­is­ter Ahmed al-Zind told AFP at the hos­pi­tal where Hisham Barakat had been taken fol­low­ing the morn­ing bomb­ing.

In­vest­ment Min­is­ter Ashraf Sal­man con­firmed that Barakat was dead.

He was the most se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial killed since ji­hadists launched an in­sur­gency fol­low­ing the mil­i­tary over­throw of Is­lamist pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Morsi in 2013.

Barakat’s as­sas­si­na­tion will come as a blow to Pres­i­dent Ab­del-Fat­tah el-Sissi, the for­mer army chief who over­threw Morsi and won elec­tions pledg­ing to wipe out Is­lamist mil­i­tants.

The bomb de­stroyed sev­eral cars and blew out store­front win­dows in the up­scale dis­trict of He­liopo­lis. At least five ve­hi­cles were com­pletely gut­ted in the ex­plo­sion.

At the hos­pi­tal, a bruised body­guard re­counted to pros­e­cu­tors how the blast hit Barakat’s con­voy as it headed to his of­fice.

“There was a mas­sive blast all of a sud­den,” he said, in the pres­ence of an AFP jour­nal­ist. “There was glass fly­ing ev­ery­where. It was as if there was an earth­quake.”

Wit­nesses at the scene of the blast said one of the charred ve- hi­cles had be­longed to pros­e­cu­tor.

“I heard a loud ex­plo­sion and ran to the site. Barakat’s car was on fire,” said one, Shaama Ab­del Fat­tah.

Bomb squad chief Gen. Mo­hamed Ga­mal told AFP it was ei­ther a car bomb or a bomb con­cealed un­der­neath a ve­hi­cle.

Barakat died of or­gan fail­ure caused by his se­vere wounds, a doc­tor who had treated him told AFP.

The bomb­ing came af­ter the Is­lamic State group’s af­fil­i­ate in Egypt called for at­tacks on the ju­di­ciary fol­low­ing the hang­ing of six al­leged mil­i­tants.

Ji­hadists Claim Judge Shoot­ing

Gun­men in the Si­nai Penin­sula, where the ji­hadists are based, had shot dead two judges and a pros­e­cu­tor in May.

The group re­leased a video on Sun­day pur­port­ing to show that at­tack in the north Si­nai city of ElAr­ish. Gun­men in a car pulled up to the van trans­port­ing the judges and sprayed it with ri­fle fire.

Barakat has re­ferred thou­sands of Is­lamists to trial since the mil­i­tary’s over­throw of Is­lamist Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Morsi in 2013, with hun­dreds then sen­tenced to death.

Mon­day’s at­tack was the most brazen against a se­nior of­fi­cial in Cairo since ji­hadists tried to as­sas­si­nate the then in­te­rior min­is­ter in a sui­cide car bomb­ing in late 2013.

An­sar Beit al-Maqdis, the Si­nai-based or­ga­ni­za­tion that later pledged al­le­giance to IS, claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for that at­tack.

In May, the group called for at­tacks on judges in an au­dio mes- sage posted online.

“By God, we will seek vengeance for our broth­ers and oth­ers like them, from the party that sen­tenced them, and the party that im­ple­mented the sen­tence,” the ji­hadist group said in the record­ing.

The mil­i­tants have killed scores of po­lice­men and sol­diers in at­tacks since Morsi’s over­throw, mostly in the Si­nai Penin­sula.

The group car­ried out sev­eral high-pro­file at­tacks in Cairo and the Nile val­ley in 2013 and 2014 be­fore po­lice killed or ar­rested its mem­bers in those ar­eas.

Sissi’s gov­ern­ment has blamed Morsi’s Mus­lim Brother­hood for the vi­o­lence and pledged to erad­i­cate the group, once the largest po­lit­i­cal move­ment in Egypt.

At least 1,400 peo­ple, mostly Is­lamist sup­port­ers, have been killed in a po­lice crack­down on protests, and much of the Brother­hood’s lead­er­ship has been ar­rested.

Courts have sen­tenced hun- dreds to death, in­clud­ing Morsi him­self, who was con­victed of in­volve­ment in at­tacks on po­lice sta­tions.

Morsi’s sen­tence pealed.

is be­ing ap-

AP

Emer­gency per­son­nel in­spect dam­age af­ter a bomb at­tack tar­geted Egypt’s pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral in the He­liopo­lis dis­trict of Cairo, Egypt, Mon­day, June 29.

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