Egypt's interior minister said on Saturday police arrested three members of an al Qaeda-linked cell in an alleged transnational plot to bomb a Western embassy and other targets in the country.
The suspects were arrested with explosives intended to be used to bomb a Western embassy after an investigation showed threads in Pakistan, Iran and Algeria, Mohamed Ibrahim said at a news conference.
Police "have delivered a successful blow against a terror cell plotting suicide bomb attacks," Ibrahim said.
The minister did not identify the embassy, which he said the militants "were on the verge" of attacking with either a car driven by a suicide bomber or remotely detonated explosives of ammonium nitrate.
Ibrahim said the suspects were captured with 10 kilos of the explosive chemical, and a computer containing instructions on bomb-making.
The militants had been in touch with an al Qaeda leader outside the country, identified as Kurdi Dawud al-Assadi who is "the head of al Qaeda in some west Asian countries," Ibrahim said.
One of the suspects was also associated with al Qaeda members in Algeria and received training from the loose-knit militant organisation in Pakistan and Iran, Ibrahim said.
"They were in electronic communication with al Qaeda in Pakistan," he said, adding that they were also in touch with an al Qaeda facilitator on the Turkish border.
He did not specify which of the eight countries that Turkey shares a border with, although these include Iran, Iraq and Syria.
According to Ibrahim, Assadi had instructed the suspects to coordinate with two alleged militants before their capture last October after a firefight that killed a gunman in a Cairo apartment.
The suspects arrested in October, also alleged to have al Qaeda links, are now on trial.
Egypt has in the past announced the arrest of al Qaeda-linked militants in the country which has seen a low-level Islamist insurgency and militant attacks on tourist sites over the past three decades.
Some of the veteran Egyptian Islamist militants are now in al Qaeda's leadership -- most prominently Ayman al-Zawahiri who heads the extremist organisation founded by Osama bin Laden.
Others have been jailed and recanted violence before being released following the 2011 uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak.
There has been a resurgence in militant attacks since the uprising, confined to the sparsely populated Sinai peninsula, in which both Egyptian troops and neighbouring Israel have been targeted.
Ibrahim said the three suspects had been in touch with an Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant in Sinai.
In August, an attack on an army outpost in Sinai that killed 16 soldiers prompted the largest military operation in the peninsula since Israel handed the territory back to Egypt following a 1979 peace agreement.
After the attack, the militants commandeered an Egyptian military vehicle into Israel, where they were killed in an Israeli helicopter strike.
No one has declared responsibility for that attack, but other attacks on Israel including cross-border suicide attacks and rocket fire have been claimed by the Mujahedeen Shura Council, which identifies with al Qaeda.