washingtonpost.com  > World > Middle East > Near East > Egypt > Post

Attacks Wound 9 People in Cairo

3 Assailants Kill Themselves; Violence Seems Aimed at Tourists

By Lee Keath
Associated Press
Sunday, May 1, 2005; Page A21

CAIRO, April 30 -- Two veiled women shot at a tour bus in Cairo after a man -- the brother of one shooter and the fiance of the second -- blew himself up as he leapt off a bridge during a police chase Saturday. All three attackers died and nine people, four of them foreigners, were wounded in an apparent revival of violence against Egypt's vital tourism industry.

The attacks occurred within two hours of each other and at locations 2 1/2 miles apart.

Egyptian policemen collect evidence after a suspect being chased by police jumped off a highway overpass in Cairo and set off a nail-filled bomb. (Amr Nabil -- AP)

The first attack took place in the center of Cairo. Those wounded in the explosion included an Israeli couple, a Swedish man and an Italian woman, along with three Egyptians. Two more Egyptians were then wounded in the shooting, which targeted a bus headed toward one of Cairo's most prominent historic Islamic sites.

Egyptian authorities denied that major radical groups had returned to violence. They said Saturday's attacks were a result of their crackdown on a small radical cell that allegedly carried out an April 7 suicide bombing in a Cairo tourist bazaar.

But the attacks deepened fears that radicals were launching a new round of violence in Egypt, which saw a bloody campaign by Islamic extremists in the 1990s.

Tourism is Egypt's biggest foreign currency earner, and the industry made a strong recovery after the 1990s violence.

The Interior Ministry said Saturday's bombing was the result of a police roundup of those behind an April attack on the Khan al-Khalili tourist bazaar in Cairo. It said police earlier in the day captured two suspects -- Ashraf Saeed Youssef and Gamal Ahmed Abdel Aal -- in connection with that attack and were chasing a third, Ehab Yousri Yassin, on a highway overpass when he jumped off, setting off a nail-filled bomb.

The two women who carried out the shooting attack were identified as Negat Yassin, the bomber's sister, and Iman Ibrahim Khamis, his fiancee, both in their twenties. They shot at the tourist bus in revenge for Yassin's death, then shot themselves, the ministry said. Women are not known to have carried out past attacks in Egypt.

Two radical groups posted Web statements asserting responsibility for the twin attacks -- the Mujahedeen of Egypt and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades. Neither claim's authenticity could be verified.

Saturday's blast went off in a crowded square between an exclusive hotel on the banks of the Nile and the Egyptian Museum, near a bus station that was relatively empty during a holiday weekend.

The injured Swede -- sitting upright in a stretcher with his bloody hands held to his face -- was lifted by paramedics into an ambulance. On a nearby curb, two Westerners checked their wounds; the young woman's left arm was bloodied and the man sitting next to her appeared to have a leg injury. The extent of the other woman's injuries was not immediately clear.

"The explosion was caused by a very primitive bomb full of nails. Most of the injuries were superficial caused by the destruction of the nails," Health Minister Mohammed Awad Tag Eddin said.

Soon after the bombing, the two women -- dressed in head-to-toe black veils -- carried out the shooting attack on a highway leading to the Citadel, a 12th-century fortress with a towering 18th-century mosque, in a part of old Cairo that is rich with historic sites and cemeteries.

The women were in a car following the bus and fired three bullets through its back window before shooting themselves, the Interior Ministry said. One died immediately and the other died later in a hospital, it said.

However, witnesses disputed the account, saying police opened fire on the women. Two other Egyptians were wounded in the shooting, and none of the tourists on the bus was hurt, police said.

At the site, a pistol and a black glove of the type worn by veiled women lay on ground that was covered by blood and shattered glass.

Police had launched a wave of arrests after the Khan al-Khalili bombing, which they initially said was carried out by a man acting alone. Later, however, they said he was part of a terrorist cell.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company