Egypt po­lice killed near the pyra­mids

At­tack­ers rid­ing mo­tor­cy­cles shot two tourism se­cu­rity force mem­bers, re­ports say.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Laura King laura.king@la­times.com

CAIRO — Uniden­ti­fied gun­men shot and killed two mem­bers of Egypt’s tourism po­lice Wed­nes­day in a driveby at­tack not far from the pyra­mids of Giza, of­fi­cial re­ports said.

The state-run Mid­dle East News Agency said that the two mo­tor­cy­cle-borne as­sailants es­caped and that se­cu­rity forces were scour­ing the Haram district, to the west of Cairo. The Reuters news agency cited a se­cu­rity source as say­ing the shoot­ing took place about 30 yards from a se­cu­rity check­point lead­ing to the Giza plateau, the site of the pyra­mids and the Sphinx.

Egypt has been hit by fre­quent at­tacks against se­cu­rity forces and po­lice and army in­stal­la­tions, but tourist ar­eas have been largely un­scathed. There were no ini­tial re­ports of any vis­i­tors be­ing in­jured in the at­tack or even be­ing close to the scene of the shoot­ing.

“Ev­ery­thing is OK here,” said a re­cep­tion clerk at a lux­ury ho­tel within sight of the pyra­mids, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause ho­tel work­ers had been told to not dis­cuss the at­tack.

The tourism and an­tiq­ui­ties po­lice, de­spite wield­ing weapons as mem­bers of the se­cu­rity estab­lish­ment, are rarely in­volved in vi­o­lent in­ci­dents, with their role be­ing mainly to safe­guard an­cient sites and pro­tect tourists. The blood­i­est at­tack tar­get­ing for­eign vis­i­tors was in 1997, when Is­lamist mil­i­tants gunned down more than 60 peo­ple, most of them tourists, in a famed tem­ple com­plex out­side the south­ern city of Luxor.

There was no im­me­di­ate claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity for Wed­nes­day’s slay­ings. Is­lamist mil­i­tants have claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for a num­ber of other at­tacks in the nearly two years since Is­lamist Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Morsi was de­posed in a pop­u­larly sup­ported mil­i­tary coup. Most of those strikes, though, have tar­geted mil­i­tary or se­cu­rity sites or con­voys.

In re­cent months, at­tacks in and near Cairo have mainly con­sisted of small bombs that have caused prop­erty dam­age and a small num­ber of fa­tal­i­ties. Some of the ex­plo­sive de­vices, though, have tar­geted com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments, par­tic­u­larly be­fore a high­pro­file in­vestors con­fer­ence in March.

The lat­est at­tack came as au­thor­i­ties have been hail­ing a tourism come­back and tout­ing ho­tel ex­pan­sion plans.

Au­thor­i­ties said this week that vis­i­tor ar­rivals in the first quar­ter of 2015 were up by about 7% com­pared with the same pe­riod a year ago.

Tourism fig­ures re­main far down from their hey­day — be­fore the 2011 revo­lu­tion that forced out long­time au­to­crat Hosni Mubarak — but in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors are still a sig­nif­i­cant source of for­eign ex­change for Egypt.

Has­san Am­mar As­so­ci­ated Press

THE AT­TACK near the pyra­mids of Giza took place as Egypt has been hail­ing a tourism come­back.

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