The minister who has aggressively led Egypt's crackdown on Islamists narrowly escaped assassination today when a car bomb tore through his convoy. The blast wounded 22 people and left a major Cairo boulevard strewn with debris. The assassination attempt on Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim—the first such attack since the military ousted the country's Islamist president—has raised fears of a militant campaign of revenge for the coup and the likelihood of an even tougher hand by authorities against protesters demanding Mohammed Morsi's return to office.
A shaken Ibrahim told state television his black SUV was directly hit. "Even if I am martyred, another interior minister will come and continue the war on the evil terror until we secure the country," he said. A group of Islamist factions that has spearheaded protests since Morsi's ouster predicted the attack would be used as a pretext for widening the crackdown. "The coalition is against any violent act, even if it is against those who committed crimes against the people," the group said. "It expects that such incidents will be used to extend the state of emergency and to increase the use of oppression, repression and detention which have been used by the coup authority." (Read more Mohammed Ibrahim stories.)