Egypt: British teenager loses leg in Cairo bomb attack
A British teenager has lost her leg in a suspected suicide bomb attack in northern Cairo, described by the Egyptian interior minister as the "beginning of a new wave of terrorism".
No one was killed in the attack, the first in the capital since Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president, was deposed in July. But more than 20 people were injured.
Among the most seriously injured was Deqa Hassan, 16, a British girl of Somali origin who lived in Brixton but has been at school in Egypt where she lives with her parents. Last month, after a visit to Dubai, she wrote on Twitter that she was afraid of returning to Egypt because of the violence there.
She was taken to the nearby Nasr Medical Insurance Hospital where her left leg was removed to her knee.
"I was walking with my friend and at the end of the street we heard the sound of an explosion," she said from her hospital bed. "I just hit the floor. People were screaming everywhere. It was very scary.
"Eventually two policemen walked up to us. We were screaming for help but they just walked away. It wasn't human."
Speaking in a London accent, Deqa went on: "The people nearby were yelling that they were injured and being shot at."
She said she wanted to go back to Brixton, where she had spent her childhood before moving to Egypt.
She also said she was with a friend who broke her shoulder.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of reports that a British national was injured in the bomb attack and we are urgently looking into it and liaising with the authorities."
Alistair Burt, the foreign minister, issued a statement condemning the attack. "Violence cannot offer a way forward," he said.
Mohammed Ibrahim, who was appointed interior minister by Mr Morsi but supported his overthrow, was driving in a convoy near the ministry when the attack which police said "appeared to be a suicide bombing" happened shortly after 10.30am. He had previously said he had received death threats.
A man was heard to cry "Allahu akbar" after the explosion, which was followed by a brief gun battle which left bullet holes down the side of the minister's vehicle. Two men alleged to be attackers were said to have been killed by the security services.
The minister was interviewed shortly afterwards, saying that the attack had been by means of a "remote controlled device" – believed to be hidden in a motorcycle.
"It was a heinous attempt," he said. "Even if I am martyred, another minister of interior will come and continue the war on the evil terror until we secure the country."
Opponents of the military-backed regime's crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its forced dispersal of protests with the loss of more than 1,000 lives have warned that it might trigger a violent response.
The government says that the Brotherhood itself has encouraged terrorism.
One of the few senior Brotherhood leaders not arrested or on the run, Amr Darrag, issued a statement condemning the attack.
It was witnessed by large numbers of people living in the middle-class Nasr City district of Cairo, home to both a number of bases of the security forces and of the mosque that became the centre of pro-Brotherhood protests after Mr Morsi was overthrown.
"People were running around randomly," said Raouf Mahmoud, 25, a doctor. "Two police cars were set on fire. Fifteen minutes later an ambulance came and took four or five people away.
"Then we heard some gun shots. They lasted for two or three minutes. After that we just saw the smoke and the fire, and we hear there are some bodies or remains of the people who died there."
The wreckage was strewn across the road, cars with their roofs peeled off and nearby shopfronts shattered.
Egyptian activists said they feared a return to the Islamist terror campaigns of the 90s, in which scores of people including western tourists were killed.
There have already been a number of militant attacks in the Sinai, which now has its own branch of al-Qaeda operating. However, this was the first major attack in the capital.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
The New Wave of Islamic Terror Starts in Egypt