msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/6/2010 2:47:49 PM ET 2010-07-06T18:47:49

A disgruntled employee of an Egyptian construction company on Tuesday opened fire on his colleagues, killing six and wounding 16, before surrendering, police and company officials said.

According to police, the gunman, a driver, pulled over the company bus on Tuesday in western Cairo, whipped out an assault rifle and showered his passengers with bullets.

The Arab Contractors company identified the assailant as 53-year-old Mahmoud Sweilam. In a statement issued after the attack, the company said he had hidden his weapon under the bus seat and then turned himself in after the shooting, which took place just 300 meters from company premises.

Effat Abdullah, the company spokesman, said that Sweilam spent 20 years in the company, one of the largest construction companies in Egypt, but declined to comment on a possible motive for the attack.

According to the security official, the gunman appeared to have suffered severe depression after he was transferred to a new position.

After interrogating Sweilam, the security official said the gunman confessed to targeting one of his colleagues on the bus, a neighbor.

Sweilam told investigators that his neighbor had pestered him to participate in an illegal dig for antiquities under Sweilam’s house. Sweilam refused, and the neighbor mocked him, leading him to open fire in the bus.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The incident was a rare case of workplace violence in Egypt, which experienced some terrorist attacks in the 1990s as well as occasional interfamily vendettas in the impoverished south.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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