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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Egypt: massive blast hits Italian Consulate in Downtown Cairo, ISIS claims responsibility

Italian Consulate building damaged in an explosion
(Image: RT)
A powerful blast hit Italian Consulate in Downtown Cairo on Saturday, 11 July. An explosion occurred early in the morning, at about 6:25 a.m., according to the witnesses, and the sound and aftershock of the blast was reportedly heard in several districts of Cairo.

Italian Consulate is located near the famous 6th October Bridge, close to Gamal Abdel Nasser metro, with the entrance located on Al-Galaa Street. This area is usually very busy and crowded, though an explosion occurred early in the morning, when there were almost no people due to the weekend and Islamic Holy month of Ramadan. Italian Consulate was closed as well, that is why the casualties were not so high.

An explosion left at least one person dead and ten people wounded, according to the official statement of Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar, spokesperson of Egypt’s Health Ministry. Italian citizens were not affected by the blast. The killed man appeared to be a young Egyptian vendor from Fayoum, the injured people are also Egyptian nationals, among them at least two policemen.

Egyptian security forces sealing the area of the blast
(Image: The Daily Mail)
Massive blast caused severe damages of the Consulate building and its façade that is totally destroyed. Neighboring buildings and cars parked nearby were damaged as well. In addition to that the blast caused the damage of the water pipes, so the water was streaming to the street, flooding the area.

Preliminary investigation showed that explosive device was placed underneath one of the cars parked in front of the Consulate. The car bomb was detonated remotely.

Police and security forces arrived on the scene, sealing the area and blocking the roads and the streets leading to the Consulate building. 6th October Bridge that crosses over the Consulate building was also sealed in both directions.

Italian Consulate is actually a complex that contains of the Consulate building, Italian Cultural Centre and social club.

Meanwhile, ISIS (Islamic State of Syria and Iraq) claimed responsibility for Italian Consulate blast later on Saturday. It was said in their statement published in social networks that an attack was carried out by the ISIS fighters.

Damaged facade of the Italian Consulate
(Image: BBC)
“With God’s grace, the Islamic State’s soldiers succeeded in a car bombing which contained 450 kilograms of explosive materials in front of the Italian Consulate in Downtown Cairo,” said the ISIS statement. It is also added: “We recommend Muslims to stay away from those security dens, because they are targets for the jihadists”.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said in his official statement that “Italy will not be intimidated after Cairo attack” and stated that there were no Italian citizens among the victims. He also expressed his condolences to Egyptians who suffered from an explosion and expressed Italy’s support of Egypt’s fight against the terrorist threat in the country and in the region.

Sinai based Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis jihadist group that recently pledged allegiance to ISIS and called itself Vilayat Sinai (Sinai Province) claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Egyptian security forces and citizens since ouster of Mohamed Morsi, including the recent bombing that killed Egyptian Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat and the following explosions in Cairo.