Suicide attack foiled in tourist site Luxor

Suicide attack foiled in tourist site Luxor

Police say they have averted a “massacre” after foiling a suicide bombing and gun attack 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, but the incident in the southern city of Luxor yesterday was the first in years targeting tourists.

This has added to fears that unrest could scare off the visitors who are crucial to the economy in a country where tourism accounts for more than a tenth of GDP.

Police said two attackers were killed and another seriously wounded near the Karnak temple in Luxor, a popular site close to the famed Valley of the Kings.

No tourists were hurt in the mid-morning incident and visitors were kept inside Karnak’s ruins, an antiquities ministry official said.

According to Australian and New Zealand wholesaler, World Journeys director & product manager Europe & ME, Kate Gohar said they had not received any news or updates from Egyptian suppliers.

“Egypt, like many other countries worldwide, has increased security levels in the face of such terrorist activities, which nowhere is immune to these days.  The fact that the attackers were successfully detected at the security check point is very positive,” Gohar told Travel Weekly.

The incident unfolded after a taxi carrying two passengers attempted to enter the parking lot and was stopped by a policeman, Tourism Minister Khaled Ramy said in a statement.

When the men were asked to open two large bags one jumped out of the car, ran away and detonated his explosive vest, a general from Luxor police said.

In the ensuing confusion, the other passenger and an accomplice who had come in on foot, pulled assault rifles from the bags and started shooting.

The police responded, killing one and seriously wounding the other.

Health ministry official Nahed Mohamed told AFP two civilians and two policemen were wounded in the shootout, but not seriously.

Police said the taxi driver was not a suspect.

“If they had managed to enter the temple, it would have been a massacre,” said the general, as 19 fully loaded magazines for the rifles were found in the bags and there were 604 tourists were in the temple.

“We have enhanced security measures in place at all our sites and we continue to take every possible measure to ensure that no harm comes to anyone visiting Egypt,” Ramy said.

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