At least one person was killed and ten others were injured in Saturday’s blast that targeted the Italian consulate in downtown Cairo, the Egyptian Health Ministry said in a statement.
Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) militant group, which has changed its name to “Sinai State” and vowed loyalty to the Islamic State (IS) regional militant group, claimed responsibility for the blast on a Twitter account attributed to them.
Taking place early in the morning, the powerful explosion caused damages inside the consulate, pulled down its main external wall and caused cracks at some surrounding buildings as well.
“The blast took place as unknown people planted an explosive device inside a car at the consulate’s street, which led to the death of a citizen who happened to be passing by then,” the Egyptian Interior Ministry said.
Following the explosion, Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar met with Italian Ambassador to Cairo Maurizio Massari to update him about the incident and the police efforts to find the perpetrators.
“During the meeting, the Italian ambassador expressed his country’s full solidarity with Egypt in its fight against the phenomenon of terrorism,” the Egyptian Interior Ministry’s statement said.
On the other hand, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry made a phone call to his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni to provide him with the available information on the blast and reaffirm Egypt’s continuous efforts in combating terrorism.
“Shukry asserted that Egypt will not stop condensing efforts with world countries, including Italy, to uproot and obliterate terrorism,” Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Badr Abdel-Atty said in a statement Saturday.
Cairo-based Al-Azhar, a leading, moderate institution of Sunni Muslims in Egypt and the whole Muslim world, denounced the blast against the Italian consulate and voiced support for the state effort and measures to guarantee security of the country and the people.
It is the first terrorist activity that has targeted a diplomatic office since the overthrow of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi by the military in early July 2013 after mass protests against his one-year rule.
Egypt has been facing a rising wave of terrorism since the Morsi’s ouster and the following crackdown on his supporters, particularly those of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, which left more than 1,000 of them killed and thousands more arrested.
Since then, Sinai-based self-proclaimed Islamists have been launching terror attacks against police and army men, leaving hundreds of them killed; the ABM claimed responsibility for most of the anti-government attacks.
Saturday’s blast came a few days after the assassination of Egypt’s top prosecutor via a car bomb in late June and the following bloody terrorist attacks on several checkpoints that killed 17 military men in North Sinai province in early July, while the military raids on militants in the peninsula killed about 250 since then.
In its annual report released in late May, Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights said that the violence since Morsi’s removal has resulted in the death of 2,600 people, including 700 police and army men, 550 civilians and 1,250 Brotherhood members and supporters. Enditem