Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a car carrying two Israeli diplomats and their wives at the Cairo International Trade Fair today, killing one of the women and wounding the other three Israelis, authorities said.
A statement delivered to a western news agency here said the attack had been carried out by a little-known group calling itself Egypt's Revolution. A group using the same name also claimed to be behind the slaying here last August of an Israeli diplomat, and it was one of several organizations claiming to have carried out the hijacking of an EgyptAir passenger plane to Malta in November.
Today's statement, and others in the past, condemned Israel and Egypt's diplomatic ties with the Jewish state -- a major irritant between Cairo and militant Arab countries.
Egyptian authorities quickly put up roadblocks in the vicinity of the shooting and said that the attackers and their car were being sought. But as of late tonight, there were no reports of any arrests.
In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Shimon Peres issued a statement expressing "deep shock" over the attack and said he was confident the perpetrators would be caught and punished, Reuter reported.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said he hoped Egyptian authorities would take stronger measures to protect Israelis in Cairo. "The attack is very serious because it was the third against our official representatives in Egypt," Shamir said.
[Israeli state radio identified the slain woman as Etti Talor, the wife of an embassy staff member.]
Israeli Embassy spokesman Issac Bar-Moshe said here that the two men in the car were junior attaches and the women were their wives and worked as secretaries for the embassy, Israel's only diplomatic mission in the Arab world.
Israeli Tourism Minister Avraham Sharir arrived here earlier today by bus from Israel, and Israeli radio said he had visited the trade fair shortly before the attack. There was no indication whether he was the intended target.
The shootings come at a difficult time for relations between the two countries and for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whose government has faced a long series of troubles over the past year, including riots three weeks ago by tens of thousands of police conscripts from Egypt's Central Security Forces.
The attack follows a series of violent incidents directed against Israelis in Egypt and coincides with delicate negotiations between Egypt and Israel over a disputed border tract at Taba, in the Sinai Peninsula.
In July 1984, an Israeli Embassy attache was wounded by gunfire near his home here, but no arrests were made and no groups claimed to have carried out the attack.
Tensions between Israel and Egypt increased last Oct. 5, when an Egyptian policeman shot and killed seven Israeli tourists at Ras Burka in the Sinai Desert.
Mubarak initially dismissed the matter as a "minor affair," saying that the policeman simply had gone berserk. But the policeman was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by an Egyptian court and later was found dead in a prison hospital in what the government said was suicide.
Earlier this week, the Egyptian government sent Israel a long-awaited official report on the Ras Burka killings, but Israeli Foreign Ministry officials described it as inadequate.
The dispute over the Ras Burka report has cast a shadow over attempts by both governments to reach an agreement on the disputed territory in Taba, just south of the Israeli port city of Eilat. Israel refused to hand the tract, site of a resort hotel, over to Egypt at the time of its 1982 withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula and disputes Cairo's contention that it is part of Egyptian territory.
Both sides to the negotiations had been reporting some progress in coming to terms with the border dispute, as well as in solving other bilateral issues.
Coming just weeks after the police riots, observers here say, the attack could add to a growing image of instability in Egypt at a time when Mubarak is trying to lure foreign investment and tourists to help the country's desperately ailing economy.
Egyptian authorities said that the four Israelis were leaving their work at the Israeli pavilion by car when "unknown persons" attacked from another car at about 7 p.m. A second car was also involved, Israeli spokesman Bar-Moshe said.
The Israelis "were taken to the hospital immediately for treatment but one of the women died," the Egyptian statement said. One of the three wounded Israelis was reported in serious condition, and Bar-Moshe said a plane was coming from Israel to pick them up if they are well enough to be transported home for medical treatment.
The statement made in the name of Egypt's Revolution said, "Our Egyptian Nasserite armed vanguard today answered back by sending the bodies of some members of the Israeli intelligence, Mossad, in charge of the Israeli stand at the Cairo trade fair, to hell."
Little, if anything, is known about the Egypt's Revolution group. Although one of the hijackers of the EgyptAir plane was captured alive, the results of the Maltese investigation have not been disclosed.
At the time of the hijacking, many observers here speculated that Egypt's Revolution was an umbrella name used by separate, unaffiliated terrorists.
The aim of these terrorists, according to this theory, was primarily to undermine and embarrass Egypt, the only Arab country to have diplomatic relations with Israel.