CAIRO — Gunmen drove into Cairo’s Tahrir Square before dawn Monday and fired at an antigovernment sit-in, seriously wounding a protester who had been jailed and tortured by former military rulers after he witnessed the killing of another activist. Two lawyers involved in the case suggested it was a targeted attack.
Lawyer Tamer Gomaa identified the wounded activist as Muhanad Samir, 19, and said he was battling for his life with a number of pellets embedded in his skull and in his face.
Gomaa said witnesses recognized the attackers and identified them as security agents dressed in civilian clothes.
Gomaa quoted witnesses as saying some of the attackers had visited the square hours before and inquired about Samir by name and about others at the sit-in.
A security official dismissed the charges as nonsense, noting that some of the witnesses said the attackers were masked. He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
He added that authorities were searching for the attackers.
Other witnesses said the attacker aimed at Samir, shooting him at close range, according to Gomaa. One of the attackers was collecting bullet shells, apparently to clear evidence.
Political tensions have been running high in Egypt over the past month pitting opponents of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi against his supporters, turning violent at times. Police and security have largely stayed out of the confrontations.
Activists who revolted against police abuse in Egypt’s uprising nearly two years ago say little has changed in the conduct of security forces.