Amr Nabil / AP

Egypt state prosecutor killed by bomb attack

Hisham Barakat dies from injuries sustained in explosion on eve of second anniversary of President Morsi’s ouster

A bomb attack in a busy upscale Cairo suburb targeted the convoy of Egypt's prosecutor general on Monday morning, a security official said. The prosecutor was wounded by the assassination attempt and later died at the hospital, state news agency MENA said.

Judicial and medical sources also confirmed the report of State Prosecutor Hisham Barakat's death to Reuters.

The attack came as Egyptian security forces went on high alert on the eve of the second anniversary of massive demonstrations that paved the way, days later, for the military's ouster of Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The bomb struck shortly after Barakat left his house in the busy eastern Heliopolis suburb, heading to his downtown office, said the security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Health ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel Ghaffar said Barakat had dislocated his shoulder and suffered from a deep cut, with the suspicion of a fractured nose. Barakat was initially reported to be in stable condition while recovering from surgery.

MENA said two guards and a civilian were also wounded in the attack.

The TV report also said the bomb contained a large amount of explosives and was detonated by remote control. Security forces cordoned off the area while explosive experts searched for other possible devices, MENA said.

Hisham Barakat

Footage from the scene of the blast showed several cars charred and wrecked from the explosion, as black smoke rose from the site. Several trees had caught fire and firefighters were dousing the area to extinguish the flames.

A little-known group calling itself the "Giza Popular Resistance" claimed responsibility on its Facebook page for the attack, according to Reuters, though it added that it could not verify the authenticity of the claim.

Barakat's place of work was also targeted earlier this year when a bomb exploded near the High Court in central Cairo, killing two people.

Egypt is facing a Sinai-based insurgency that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the army toppled Morsi after the current government of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi led a major crackdown on Morsi’s Brotherhood colleagues, killing hundreds and detaining tens of thousands.

Since then, authorities have carried out mass trials and handed down death sentences to hundreds of suspects. This has brought the Egyptian judiciary and officials under international criticism. They have also been targeted in attacks by armed groups.

The attack on Barakat is the first major assassination attempt on a high government official since a 2013 suicide bombing targeted the then-interior minister Mohammed Ibrahim. Egypt's main armed group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis –which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group fighting in Iraq and Syria – has claimed responsibility for that attack.

Now known as Sinai Province, the group has claimed responsibility for most of the country's major suicide bombings and assassinations. On Sunday, it released a video of a May attack that killed three judges in the northern Sinai Peninsula city of el-Arish, the group's main base. The Sinai attack came on the same day as an Egyptian court sentenced Morsi to death over a mass prison break during 2011 uprising that eventually brought him to power.

That was Morsi's first death sentence but he is also facing several other trials on charges that carry the death penalty.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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