Egypt's top prosecutor has died after a bomb attack. Hisham Barakat and his bodyguards had been taken to hospital after their car was hit outside a military academy in the Heliopolis neighborhood of the Egyptian capital.
Egyptian Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat died of injuries sustained in an apparent remote-controlled bombing, state television reported on Monday. The state news agency MENA had initially reported that Barakat suffered "light injuries" in the explosion. By afternoon, that assessment had been revised.
"He has passed away," Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zind told the Agence France-Presse news agency at the hospital on Monday.
It remains uncertain who carried out the attack. The little-known Giza Popular Resistance had apparently claimed responsibility for the bomb earlier Monday on Facebook. The group also reportedly uploaded photos it claimed were from the attack.
Officials could not verify the claim, but said the bomb had not been placed under Barakat's car as the group had boasted. And, later, journalists were reporting that the group had not been involved and that the Facebook post was fraudulent.
An official at the hospital told The Associated Press news agency that Barakat had suffered multiple shrapnel wounds to the shoulder, chest and liver and doctors had attempted to save him through emergency surgery.
Heeding 'IS' call?
Monday's bombing followed calls by Sinai Province, an Egyptian group that has sworn allegiance to the "Islamic State," to carry out attacks on the judiciary after the hanging of six alleged militants. Egypt's judges and officials have been increasingly targeted by militants in recent months. On Sunday, the group released video of an attack that killed three judges on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in May.
Groups opposing the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi have also launched a string of attacks, apparently in response to the hefty sentences handed down to members of the Muslim Brotherhood in various trials. Since President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by Sissi and the military in 2013, Barakat had referred thousands of the Muslim Brotherhood's supporters to trial, with hundreds then sentenced to death - Morsi among them.
Though the crackdown has mostly focused on the Muslim Brotherhood and allied Islamist factions, students, the press and secular activists have also been targeted. Earlier in June, Sissi pardoned 165 people jailed under anti-protest laws.
Monday's attack came with security forces already on high alert on the eve of the second anniversary of the massive demonstrations against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood that paved the way, days later, for the military coup to oust the president and ultimately install Sissi as Egypt's leader.
mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)