Cairo - Former Egyptian prime minister Atef Sedki, who survived an assassination attempt by militant Islamists in 1993, died in hospital after a period of ill health on Friday at the age of 74, family sources said.

Sedki, a lawyer and economist by training, headed three cabinets between November 1986 and January 1996, making him one of the longest-serving prime ministers in modern Egypt.

As prime minister, a post which in Egypt is greatly overshadowed by the powerful presidency, he supervised, and at times resisted, implementation of economic reforms approved by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

His premiership coincided with the worst period of internal conflict between the security forces and the Gama'a al-Islamiya (Islamic Group), which tried to overthrow the government by guerrilla war. More than 1 000 people were killed.

In 1993 militants of another Islamist group, the Vanguards of Conquest, detonated a car bomb as his motorcade drove through central Cairo. Sedki emerged unscathed but the explosion killed a schoolgirl and wounded 18 people.

Born on August 29, 1930, in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, Sedki received a degree in law at Cairo University and a doctorate in economics from Paris.

As head of the Central Auditing Agency, a body supervising government and public sector spending, Sedki had been Egypt's fiscal watchdog for five years before he became prime minister.

Sedki had been in and out of hospital for some months after fracturing his thigh in a fall. He fell ill on Friday morning and died in a Cairo hospital within hours, the sources said.

Sedki is survived by his German-born Ursula and two children.