Egypt po­lice foil sui­cide attack at tourist site

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY AB­DEL­HALIM AB­DAL­LAH

Po­lice said they foiled an at­tempted sui­cide bomb attack Wed­nes­day on one of Egypt’s most popular an­cient at­trac­tions in a rare as­sault on the coun­try’s vi­tal tourism sec­tor.

Egypt has been shaken by a tide of at­tacks claimed by ji­hadists since the army top­pled the demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment two years ago.

Although tourists have avoided most of the car­nage, there are fears fur­ther un­rest could scare off would-be vis­i­tors that are cru­cial for the econ­omy.

Po­lice said two at­tack­ers were killed and an­other wounded on Wed­nes­day close to the Kar­nak tem­ple in Luxor, a popular tourist des­ti­na­tion close to Egypt’s famed Val­ley of the Kings.

No tourists were hurt, and vis­i­tors at the an­cient site were kept in­side Kar­nak’s ru­ins dur­ing the foiled as­sault, a se­nior an­tiq­ui­ties min­istry of­fi­cial told AFP.

Luxor po­lice said of­fi­cers opened fire on three men af­ter they had re­fused to un­dergo se­cu­rity screen­ing at a check­point near the site.

Po­lice shot two at­tack­ers as they pulled out weapons con­cealed in their bags, killing one and se­ri­ously wound­ing an­other, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cers at the scene.

A third as­sailant man­aged to det­o­nate a bomb he was car­ry­ing and died.

“Se­cu­rity forces in Luxor foiled a ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tion ... Two ter­ror­ists were killed and a third was wounded,” the po­lice said in a state­ment.

Lo­cal health min­istry of­fi­cial Na­hed Mo­hamed told AFP that two civil­ians and two po­lice­men were also wounded in the attack but not se­ri­ously.

She added that the wounded as­sailant was in a se­ri­ous con­di­tion af­ter be­ing shot in the head.

Kar­nak in cen­tral Luxor was built on the ru­ins of Thebes, the cap­i­tal of an­cient Egypt.

The huge tem­ple ded­i­cated to the god Amon lies in the heart of a vast com­plex of re­li­gious build­ings in the city, 700 kilo­me­ters (435 miles) south of Cairo.

Tourism in Egypt has fal­tered since early 2011, when a popular up­ris­ing top­pled long­time strongman Hosni Mubarak af­ter three decades in power.

Years of in­sta­bil­ity scared off vis­i­tors from over­seas, dam­ag­ing the econ­omy and send­ing Egypt’s for­eign cur­rency re­serves plung­ing.

Ji­hadists have launched regular bomb­ings since the army’s ouster of Is­lamist pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi in July 2013, mainly in the restive Si­nai Penin­sula, where a lo­cal af­fil­i­ate of the Is­lamic State group has claimed a spate of at­tacks on se­cu­rity forces.

A gov­ern­ment crack­down has left hun­dreds of Morsi sup­port­ers dead, thou­sands im­pris­oned and dozens sen­tenced to death af­ter speedy tri­als, de­scribed by the U.N. as “un­prece­dented in re­cent his­tory.”

The ji­hadists claim their at­tacks are in ret­ri­bu­tion for the crush­ing of dis­sent un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah elSissi.

Although tourists have been largely spared, a sui­cide bomb­ing last year on a tour bus in the Si­nai killed three South Kore­ans and their Egyptian driver.

AP

Re­mains of the body of a failed sui­cide bomber lie cov­ered, as peo­ple gather at the scene, near Kar­nak Tem­ple in Luxor, Egypt, Wed­nes­day, June 10.

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