WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – On Friday evening, a bomb targeting a small tourist bus near Egypt’s famed pyramids, killed three Vietnamese tourists, along with their Egyptian tour guide. Another eleven of the 14 tourists on the bus were injured.
The following day, on Saturday, Egyptian police carried out two raids in the greater Cairo area, in which 30 “terrorists” were killed, as well as a third raid in El Arish, the main city in the northern Sinai. Ten more “terrorists” were killed there, according to Egypt’s Interior Ministry.
The ministry explained that the raids were, partly, a pre-emptive move, ahead of the New Year on January 1 and the Coptic Christmas on January 7.
“A group of terrorists were planning to carry out a series of aggressive attacks targeting state institutions, particularly economic ones, as well as tourism, armed forces, police, and Christian places of worship," the Interior Ministry said.
It also stated that bomb-making materials, a large amount of weapons, and ammunition, were seized during the raids.
As the country’s capital, Cairo is under unusually heavy security. The last terrorist assault there occurred two years ago, when a bomb targeting the Coptic Orthodox cathedral killed 29 people. The Islamic State claimed credit for that December 11, 2016, attack.
Terrorism elsewhere in Egypt, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula, has been more frequent and deadlier.
In November 2017, some 40 gunmen, bearing the flag of the Islamic State, attacked a Sufi mosque west of El Arish during Friday prayers. Using bombs, guns, and even rocket-propelled grenades, the gunmen killed 305 people and injured 128 more.
The attack on the al-Radwa mosque became the deadliest terrorist assault in the country’s history, and the Egyptian government responded with a military campaign in the Sinai that included airstrikes on the gunmen’s suspected hideouts.
Tourism is extremely important for Egypt, constituting nearly a third of the country’s economy. Terrorism, typically, harms the industry. After the November 1997, terrorist assault at Luxor, which killed 62 people, mostly foreign tourists, it took a full year for tourism to return to its former level.
Egyptian authorities were clearly concerned about the potential economic impact of Friday’s attack, suggesting the bus driver, who was taking the tourists to a sound and light show at the pyramids, was traveling via an unauthorized route. However, the driver strongly denied that charge.
On Tuesday, Egypt’s western neighbor Libya, suffered a dramatic terrorist assault, when its Foreign Ministry was attacked by two suicide bombers, who killed three people and wounded ten more. The Islamic State claimed credit.
Earlier this month, the bodies of two young Scandinavian women were found beheaded in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, where they had been hiking. The four Moroccans who carried out the murders had pledged loyalty to the Islamic State in a video they had made a week before.
So far, however, no party has claimed credit for Friday’s attack in Cairo.