A deadly explosion involving an automobile outside a Cairo hospital that killed at least 20 is being described in the media as a terrorist incident and also as a vehicular accident.
On Monday night, a car driving in the wrong direction in central Cairo struck three other vehicles before exploding outside Egypt’s National Cancer Institute near the Nile River. Twenty people were reported killed and 47 injured but rescue crews are still searching for bodies in the river.
Several media reported the incident only as a vehicular collision but Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Egypt’s president, explicitly described the incident as a terrorist attack.
“I extend my deepest condolences to the Egyptian people and the families of the martyrs killed in the cowardly terrorist incident in the vicinity of the Kasr al-Aini area yesterday evening,” al-Sisi wrote on social media.
Egypt’s interior ministry claimed the car was loaded with explosives, laying the responsibility for the incident on Hasm, an Islamist terrorist branch of the Muslim Brotherhood but the group denied the allegation.
“It is estimated that the car was being transported to a location for use in the execution of a terrorist operation,” the ministry said in a statement.
An article by the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism explained details about Hasm. In Arabic, ‘Hasm’ means “decisiveness” but the name of the group may be also an acronym of Arabic phrase ‘Harakat Sawa’d Misr,’ which literally means ‘Arms of Egypt Movement.’ The article noted that the current goal of the organization is “jihad and resistance,” against President al-Sisi’s regime.
In 2016, Hasm claimed responsibility for two assassination attempts and two terrorist attacks, one of which resulted in the deaths of dozens of Egyptian policemen. In 2018, the United States designated Hasm as a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’ entity.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a transnational Sunni Islamist organization founded in Egypt, supported by Qatar and associated with the Islamic State (ISIS). It is designated as a terrorist organization by several nations. Al-Sisi has been waging a fierce battle to uproot the group from his country. The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohammad Morsi, won the Egyptian presidential election, ruling from 2012-2013 when he was overthrown. The Muslim Brotherhood called for an Islamist Jihad to overthrow al-Sisi’s government.
The Egyptian government stated that a member of the group had been arrested in connection with the blast.
Approximately 80 cancer patients were transferred to other medical facilities and adjacent buildings were evacuated.