CAIRO — Egypt's interior minister narrowly escaped an assassination attempt Thursday when a suspected car bomb tore through his convoy, wounding more than 20 people and leaving a major Cairo boulevard strewn with debris — the first such attack since the military ousted the country's Islamist president.
The strike raised fears of a militant campaign of revenge for the coup and raised the likelihood of an even tougher hand by authorities against protesters demanding Mohammed Morsi's return to office.
Allies of Morsi sought to distance themselves from the attack. Some even ridiculed it as an attempt to frame them.
The interim president and other officials compared the attack to the days of the Islamic militant insurgency of the 1980s and 1990s, when radicals battling security forces in the south also attempted numerous assassinations.
Since Morsi's ouster in the July 3 coup, Egypt has been back under emergency law, and police have arrested nearly 2,000 members of his Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist supporters. Interior minister Mohammed Ibrahim heads the police waging the crackdown.
The bomb was detonated in late morning as Ibrahim's convoy passed through Nasr City, an eastern district of Cairo where Morsi supporters have held near daily protests in the past weeks.
Security officials said initial investigations showed the blast came from a parked car loaded with nearly 90 pounds of explosives in the trunk.
At least 10 policemen and 11 civilians were wounded in the explosion, including a 7-year-old child whose right leg was amputated, the security officials said.