Egyptian arrested after suspected bombing attempt near US Embassy

Mission reopens hour after man is intercepted outside concrete blast barriers in heavily policed neighborhood

CAIRO — An Egyptian man was arrested outside the US Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday after chemicals in his backpack caught fire, in what authorities said was a botched attack.

No one was harmed in the incident, which took place just outside the heavy blast walls that surround the embassy in Garden City, a leafy neighborhood in the heart of the capital. The US Embassy is next to the British Embassy, which is also heavily fortified.

The Interior Ministry identified the man as 24-year-old Abdullah Ayman Abdel-Sameea, and said his backpack contained a bottle of flammable chemicals. It said he embraced an “extremist” ideology and that he intended to use the material he carried in a “hostile” act.

The ministry did not provide further information to support its accusations.

Video footage posted on social media showed police arresting the man, who was led away after his pants and shoes were stripped off in the search.

The US Embassy said in a tweet that it was “aware of a reported incident” near the embassy and advised American citizens to avoid the area.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The area around the embassy has for decades been heavily policed, with concrete barriers blocking vehicular traffic in its immediate vicinity. The British Embassy is located across the road from the US embassy building.

The US embassy reopened for business less than an hour after the incident.

There have been many terror attacks in Egypt and particularly in Cairo in the past few years.

Jihadists launched an insurgency in Sinai after the 2013 military overthrow of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, forced out by the military in the face of mass protests against his rule.

Attacks have also taken place elsewhere in the country, including in Cairo.

The army in February launched a major operation focused on the Sinai peninsula in eastern Egypt to wipe out jihadists, including the Islamic State group.

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