Terrorists strike at Luxor

Friday 12/06/2015
Security heightened after incident as tourists are again at the site

TUNIS - Militants set off a bomb in a taxi near a tour­ist site in Luxor, the second time in eight days jihadist groups targeted visitors at a historic loca­tion in Egypt.
Two men -- both suspected assail­ants -- died in the June 10th attack and four people, including two po­lice officers, a civilian and a third al­leged militant, were wounded.
Egyptian authorities said they were introducing new security measures to protect ancient sites. Karnak temple Director Moham­med Abdel-Aziz said after the attack that the monument “is safe and un­affected and visitors continue to ar­rive”. In fact, four groups visited the site after the attack, officials said.
However, it was the third attack on a tourist attraction in North Afri­ca in the last several months. Three assailants opened fire at the Bardo Museum March 18th in Tunis, kill­ing 20 tourists and two Tunisians. On June 3rd, two policemen were killed at the Giza pyramids outside Cairo in a drive-by shooting.
Action by security personnel lim­ited the toll at the June 10th inci­dent at the ancient Karnak temple in Luxor, a site visited by millions each year, by searching a taxi. One of the men in the vehicle set off a bomb, killing himself. Two other men fired at police. One of them was killed.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Egypt has a his­tory of Islamic militants targeting foreign tourists since the 1990s. The deadliest attack occurred in Luxor in November 1997, when militants attacked tourists at the 3,400-year-old Hatshepsut temple, killing 58.
In 2005, bombs exploded in a ho­tel at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing 64 people, mainly tourists.
Last year, the main Sinai-based insurgent group, Ansar Beit al- Maqdis, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS). In Syria and Iraq, ISIS has destroyed archaeolog­ical artefacts, deeming them “idola­trous”.
The recent attacks on Luxor and Giza could mean a new focus by ji­hadists. Mathieu Guidere, French strategic expert, said the aim of the jihadists is “to weaken the Egyptian economy by destroying the tourism industry” and to have “the maxi­mum media impact”.
The Luxor attack comes as tour­ism has been showing signs of re­covery in Egypt. Before the 2011 uprising that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak, tourism annually accounted for about 20% of Egypt’s foreign currency revenues and at­tracted as many as 14.7 million tour­ists.
After 2011, the number of tour­ist arrivals dropped to 9.6 million. Tourists have slowly been returning and officials say tourism revenues rose to $4 billion in the first half of 2015, compared to $1.9 billion in the same period in 2014.
Egyptian Tourism Minister Khaled Ramy said he expects the in­dustry’s slow recovery to continue despite the attack. “Security forces were there. It’s a very important message to everyone,” he said.