Suicide bombers target Egypt’s famed temple site at Luxor

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Militants with explosives battled Egyptian security forces outside the famed ancient Karnak temple in Luxor on Wednesday, injuring at least four people in an attempt to strike another blow on Egypt’s fragile tourism industry.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry said two attackers were killed and a third was wounded in a foiled “terrorist attack,” which reports said injured four Egyptians but no tourists.

A file photo dated 07 December 2010 shows tourists visiting the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt. Reports quoted Egyptian security officials as saying militants have attempted a suicide attack in Luxor’s Karnak Temple. EPA/MOHAMMED OMAR (Mohammed Omar/EPA)Egypt’s state-run MENA said the attackers tried to target a tourist bus before coming under fire from security

Egypt’s state-run MENA said the attackers tried to target a tourist bus before coming under fire from security forces, and failed to enter the heart of the temple grounds from the age of the Egyptian pharaohs.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Luxor residents said there was an increased police presence following the attack.

But the incident raised fears about the growing reach of Islamist militants waging a low-level insurgency against government forces. At least one faction in Egypt has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Luxor residents said there was an increased police presence following the attack.

But the incident raised fears about the growing reach of Islamist militants waging a low-level insurgency against government forces. At least one faction in Egypt has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State.A member of the Egyptian security forces walks past human remains at the scene where assailants attempted to carry out a suicide bomb attack ,on June 10, 2015, in the Karnak temple in Luxor. AFP PHOTO / STR STR/AFP/Getty Images (Str/AFP/Getty Images)

In 1997, Islamist militants killed more than 60 people at nearby Hatshepsut temple in Luxor after opening fire in the site’s courtyard. It was the worst terrorist attack in Egypt’s history.

The governor of Luxor, Mohammed Sayed Badr, told the Associated Press that the attackers tried to “break into the temple of Karnak,” part of a complex started 4,000 years ago and built over many centuries.

“They didn’t make it in,” he said, describing a shootout between security forces and the attackers in the parking area outside the temple, one of the most heavily visited tourist sites in Egypt. Badr said a bomb-rigged belt worn by one of the attackers exploded as he ran.

But MENA, citing the Interior Ministry, said at least one attacker breached the site’s barricades and detonated explosives.

 

In 1997, Islamist militants killed more than 60 people at nearby Hatshepsut temple in Luxor after opening fire in the site’s courtyard. It was the worst terrorist attack in Egypt’s history.

The governor of Luxor, Mohammed Sayed Badr, told the Associated Press that the attackers tried to “break into the temple of Karnak,” part of a complex started 4,000 years ago and built over many centuries.

“They didn’t make it in,” he said, describing a shootout between security forces and the attackers in the parking area outside the temple, one of the most heavily visited tourist sites in Egypt. Badr said a bomb-rigged belt worn by one of the attackers exploded as he ran.

But MENA, citing the Interior Ministry, said at least one attacker breached the site’s barricades and detonated explosives.

Egypt’s Health Ministry said at least four people were injured, including two Egyptian shop owners and two policemen in Luxor, about 300 miles south of Cairo on the Nile River.

The governor Badr said no tourists were hurt. It was unclear how many visitors were at the site at the time of the clash.

“I am worried that there will be rumors about people dying and that will scare the tourists away,” said Ahmed Mohamed, an Egyptian tour guide with Abu Simbel Tours. “Things have been stable in Luxor for a long time.”

Egypt has seen a rise in attacks since the military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from power two years ago, setting off clashes between Brotherhood supporters and police and army troops. Security forces killed about 1,000 pro-Brotherhood demonstrators when it dispersed a protest in Cairo in August 2013.

But attacks in Egypt’s south, where Luxor is located, have been rare. Mokhtar Awad, a researcher focused on Islamist groups at the Center for American Progress, called the operation a worrying development.In Egypt’s restive North Sinai region, jihadist groups have flourished. The largest faction, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes, recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. That group, which now calls itself “Sinai Province,” has asserted responsibility for many high-profile attacks.

On Tuesday, the group said it had attacked the Sinai airport where multinational peacekeepers are stationed, Reuters reported.

Around the region, security forces have been on heightened alert at tourist sites since gunmen in March stormed the popular Bardo Museum in Tunis, killing 21 people, mostly visitors from Europe. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the siege.

Source: Washington Post

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