An explosion ripped through the Italian consulate building in central Cairo, killing a passerby and wounding eight, in the first attack against a foreign mission since violence in the country escalated two years ago.
Explosives planted in a car caused the blast, which took place at about 6:30 a.m. local time, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. No Italians were hurt, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Twitter.
“We won’t leave Egypt by itself,” Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in a statement. “Italy and Egypt are and will be together in the fight against terrorism.”
Egyptian authorities are struggling to stem a surge in violence since the military-led ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013. Saturday’s blast comes less than two weeks after the nation’s top prosecutor was assassinated in Cairo, raising concerns that militant attacks, which have been largely confined to the restive Northern Sinai province, are gradually spreading to other parts of the country.
“It was very loud, very frightening,” Abdo El-Rashidy, a security guard at the consulate, said of Saturday’s blast. “The windows and doors of one side of the consulate were shattered.”
The consulate is located in one of the busiest areas in central Cairo. Several other buildings in the area were damaged in the blast, which also destroyed the main underground pipes supplying downtown Cairo with water, said Mostafa El Shimi, vice chairman of Greater Cairo Water Company.
The government blames most of the violence on Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood. The organization, now classified as a terrorist group, denies the charge.