Egyptian security forces have foiled a plan by an al Qaeda cell to carry out a series of suicide attacks on a foreign embassy and state offices. The Interior Ministry says three militants have been captured.
Egyptian Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ibrahim said the men, accused of having links to militants in the Middle East and Pakistan, had been found with 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of aluminum nitrate. The substance is a key ingredient in bomb manufacturing.
The men, the Interior Ministry official said, had also been found in possession of statements issued by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the group's arm in North Africa.
Information on how to make bombs and rockets and ways of collecting intelligence was also found on the men's computers.
Ibrahim said the ment were trying to take advantage of the country's situation to "target innocent civilians and attack foreign diplomatic missions."
Ibrahim refused to answer journalists' questions about which embassy had been targeted.
"The Interior Ministry was able to direct a qualitative blow to a terrorist cell that was planning suicide operations against vital, important and foreign facilities in the country," he said in the televised news conference.
Two of the accused are from Alexandria, on Egypt's Mediterranean coast, the state news agency, MENA, reported but did not say where the third suspect was from.
The militants, Ibrahim said, had been in constant contact with Kurdi Dawud al-Assadi, a militant leader whom he described as the head of al Qaeda in some west Asia countries.
Two of the men have been detained for 15 days pending an investigation, the state security prosecutor's office said in a statement. The third has been confined to his home and ordered not to leave, state news agency MENA reported.
Security across the country has deteriorated since the 2011 uprising that saw President Hosni Mubarak ousted after 30 years in power.
Twenty-six suspected Islamist militants, including two former military officers, went on trial in April for allegedly planning attacks against Egyptian public figures. That group, known as the Nasr City cell, had connections to the militants arrested on Saturday, Ibrahim said.
jlw/tm (AP, AFP)