Egypt police foil suicide attack at tourist site
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.
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.