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Monday, September 6, 1999 Published at 20:52 GMT 21:52 UK

World: Middle East

Mubarak attacker shot dead

Mr Mubarak makes a speech in Port Said shortly after the incident

Presidential security guards in Egypt have shot dead a man as he tried to attack President Hosni Mubarak with a "sharp instrument".

The BBC's Peter Biles: "The routine sound of sirens, then clearly audible bursts of gunfire"
Mr Mubarak suffered a minor wound to his hand during the attack, which happened as he was being driven in a motorcade through the streets of Port Said, according to an Interior Ministry statement.

The statement said the head of the presidential bodyguard also "suffered a deep wound to the hand" as he fended off the attacker, who was identified as El-Sayed Hussein Soliman, a 40-year-old street vendor.

[ image: Mr Mubarak shortly before the incident]
Mr Mubarak shortly before the incident
The man was shot dead on the spot.

Egyptian television did not show the actual incident, but the sound of two bursts of automatic fire could clearly be heard over pictures of the cheering crowd.

Mr Mubarak has received several telephone calls from regional leaders congratulating him on his escape.

Schedule unchanged

The Interior Ministry said the attacker had no links with any political or radical Islamic organisation, but was "known for his impulsive and reckless behaviour".

Adel Darwish: "This incident will add another 10% to President Mubarak's ratings"
The attack came while Mr Mubarak was touring industrial projects in Port Said, 100 miles (160km) north-east of Cairo.

After the incident, he went on to a meeting and delivered a speech as scheduled - and making no mention of the attack.

Latest attempt on Mubarak's life

The Egyptian leader has already survived at least three assassination attempts.

[ image: The crowds welcomed Mr Mubarak to Port Said]
The crowds welcomed Mr Mubarak to Port Said
The closest call came in June 1995, when the president's limousine came under fire as it was driving through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the way to a summit.

BBC Cairo correspondent Jim Muir says the threat from Islamic extremists has receded in recent years, following a ruthless crackdown by the authorities.

Our correspondent says that the biggest of the radical Muslim factions announced earlier this year that it was calling off all armed actions.

Mr Mubarak's predecessor, Anwar Sadat, was assassinated in 1981 by Islamic militants angered at his decision to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Mr Mubarak - then Vice-President - was lightly wounded on that occasion.

Barak's sympathy

Israeli PM Ehud Barak telephoned Mr Mubarak to express his sympathy and to repeat his thanks for Mr Mubarak's help in restarting the Middle East peace process.

The BBC's Jim Muir: "Mr Mubarak's security don't give anyone the benefit of the doubt"
The Egyptian president presided over the signing of the latest agreement between Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday.

Other calls of support have come from King Abdullah of Jordan, the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, as well as Colonel Gaddafi of Libya and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

Facing a referendum

Mr Mubarak faces a referendum later this month which is expected to see him returned to office for a fourth six-year term.

Middle East analyst Adel Darwish said he believed the incident in Port Said would add another 10% to Mr Mubarak's ratings.

Speaking in an interview with BBC World, Mr Darwish said that with Egyptians "economically disillusioned and unhappy, mainly with corruption in the system", the level of support for Mr Mubarak had been expected to go down.

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