|Attack highlights deteriorating security across Egypt since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak [EPA]
Egyptian presidential hopeful Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh has been released from hospital after he was violently beaten and his car hijacked, police and his spokesman have said.
Aboul Fotouh is campaigning as an independent for the presidency and was on his way back from a rally in Menoufia, 60km north of Cairo, when he was attacked.
He was being driven back to Cairo when his vehicle was blocked by assailants, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported on Friday.
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Aboul Fotouh was attacked by masked gunmen late on Thursday and struck three times in the head with the butt of an automatic rifle, Ali Bahnasawy, his spokesman, said.
The attackers drove off with the vehicle.
Campaign officials said the motive for the carjacking was not immediately clear, but suspected it might have been a targeted attack.
"We don't believe it's random, but we're not sure yet," Bahnasawy said.
Bahnasawy said some people in Menoufia had asked suspicious questions about Aboul Fotouh's route and travel details before he left the event.
Police officials said they were investigating the incident and searching for suspects.
Bahnasawy said their team has asked for extra police protection for Aboul Fotouh after the attack.
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Aboul Fotouh is a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has emerged as Egypt's most powerful Islamist group and controls nearly half of the seats in the country's new parliament. The movement expelled him when he declared his intention to run for president.
The Muslim Brotherhood has vowed not to field a candidate in the elections, which are slated to take place by early June.
The attack on Aboul Fotouh, just months before presidential elections are to be held, highlighted the deteriorating security situation across Egypt after the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak from power a year ago.
While many blame the interior ministry for the deteriorating security, others see it as part of the failure by the ruling military council to steer the country through what was supposed to be a transition to democracy.
During the 18-day uprising, more than 23,000 prisoners were either let out or broke out of prison during a collapse of the police force.