February 27, 2009 / 11:06 PM / 11 years ago

U.S. citizen stabbed in Cairo tourist area

(Adds details, attacker says hated foreigners)

CAIRO, Feb 27 (Reuters) - An attacker stabbed a U.S. citizen in front of his wife in a popular Cairo tourist area on Friday in the second attack on foreigners in the Egyptian capital in less than a week, security sources said.

They said the American, a teacher in his fifties in an American school in the coastal city of Alexandria, was with his wife and a friend when he was lightly wounded in an unprovoked attack in a tourist area that is home to the 14th century Khan el-Khalili market.

The assailant, who was arrested at the scene, told police he attacked the American out of hatred for foreigners, particularly after Israel’s recent offensive on the Gaza Strip, one security source and state media said.

The Egyptian government, a strong ally of Washington, has faced heightened domestic discontent in recent months over its enforcement of an Israeli blockade on Hamas-run Gaza, especially during an Israeli invasion that ended on Jan. 18.

Police were alerted to the attack on the American by his wife’s screams, witnesses said. State news agency MENA said the American had suffered a superficial wound to his face and that police stopped the attacker before he could inflict further damage.

Security sources described him as mentally ill and said he also attacked a policeman who tried to arrest him. They said the stabbing had no connection to a bombing earlier this week that killed a French tourist nearby.

A bomb placed under a bench killed a French teenager on Sunday and wounded at least 24 other people in a crowded square in the same area of Cairo, where tourists shop for trinkets and sit at outdoor cafes. The area also holds Islamic monuments.

That blast, for which there was no immediate claim of responsibility, was the first fatal attack on tourists in Egypt since bombs killed at least 23 people at an Egyptian resort in the Sinai peninsula in 2006.

Islamic militants have hit Egypt’s tourist industry in recent years through bomb and shooting attacks, though there had been a lull since 2006. Attacks on tourists are embarrassing for the government, which tries to project an image of security and stability. (Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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