NORTHAFRICA

Assassination attempt on EgyptianMubarak foiled

Special to USAfricaonline.com

In Egypt, the North African country which witnessed the violent killing of its former president President Anwar Sadat on national tv in1981 by Islamic militants, the continuing fears of another attempt happened September 6, 1999 as presidential guards shot and killed a man who grazed President Hosni Mubarak with a sharp instrument as he drove through the northern town of Port Said. According to an official statement: "While the president was waving ... through the car's window, a person approached the motorcade holding a sharp tool and inflicted a light wound'' on the arm.

The attack occurred in Port Said, 180km (about 100 miles) northeast of Cairo at the northern end of the Suez Canal, where Mubarak was touring business and industrial projects. According to the Cairo Times, police reports say the attacker has no connections with any militant groups.

According to an Interior Ministry, the attacker leaped over a barricade and jumped onto the president's car as he was driving through an industrial zone in the Suez Canal city. Mubarak had the window open to wave to the crowd, and both he and one of his bodyguards received cuts in the hand before the assailant was felled by four bullets. State television reported that the president had his wound sterilized, before proceding to a conference room to deliver a speech on the economy as planned. Mubarak is currently touring the country prior to the 26 September presidential referendum.

The ministry identified the attacker as Hussein Mahmoud Suliman, 40, known as "Al Arabi," a clothes trader from Port Said's Souq al Arab market. The report said that he was known for his "irrational behavior," but had no known ties to "any organized movements." Mubarak is exceptionally well-protected. During the militants' seven-year campaign against the government, only one of many alleged plots against his life was reported to have gotten close to him--the 1995 ambush of his motorcade in Addis Ababa, from where the president escaped unscathed even though ten bullets hit his car. Mubarak also survived the 1981 assault on the presidential reviewing stand in which his predecessor, Anwar Al Sadat, was killed.

The AP reported that Mubarak's wound was treated with a disinfectant before the president, who has survived at least three assassination attempts, went on to deliver a speech, the statement said. One of his guards was hit by a stray bullet and wounded. Egyptian television later showed videotape of crowds on the streets of Port Said cheering Mubarak, but cut away as shots rang out and did not show the attack. The next pictures showed Mubarak at the meeting hall cheered on by supporters. Mubarak said nothing about the attack in a speech devoted to economic development.

The most serious of the attacks on Mubarak came in June 1995, when Muslim militants fired on his limousine as it was driving through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His predecessor, President Anwar Sadat, was assassinated in 1981 by Islamic militants angered at his having signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Mubarak, who was Sadat's vice president, became president after the assassination. Mubarak is preparing for a presidential referendum September 26 that he is expected to win. It would be his fourth six-year term in office.
by Chido Nwangwu, USAfricaonline.com with reports from Cairo Times and AP

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