Suspected Muslim militants opened fire with submachine guns and set off a bomb Wednesday in an attack on Egypt's interior minister. He was badly wounded and four people were killed.

Interior Minister Hassan el-Alfy, 57, was shot in the right arm and stomach and was in serious condition at the Police Hospital, police sources said. El-Alfy underwent open-heart surgery within the past month.The attack occurred as his motorcade passed along a busy downtown street near government ministries, the U.S. Embassy and the American University in Cairo. Nearby is Tahrir Square, site of the Egyptian Museum.

As interior minister, el-Alfy is in charge of its police. His ministry is leading a government crackdown on Muslim radicals who have carried out a 19-month campaign of violence to topple the secular government and install strict Islamic rule.

El-Alfy had been the governor of Assiut province, a hotbed of Muslim extremism, before becoming interior minister in April. Some militants had said they welcomed his appointment, saying it could lead to a decrease in the confrontation with the government.

El-Alfy has kept up the battle with radicals, but under his direction there have been fewer widespread arrests and shootouts. He also has pledged to stop abusing prisoners. However, military trials of extremists have proceeded.