Sunday, February 16, 2014

Blast Hits Sinai Tourist Bus in Egypt's Taba, At Least Four Dead

Blast hits Sinai tourist bus in Egypt's Taba, at least 4 dead

Ahram Online, Sunday 16 Feb 2014

Three Korean tourists and Egyptian driver confirmed dead in attack on bus in Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Taba; investigations underway

An attack on a tourist bus in the Red Sea resort town of Taba has killed at least four.

It is the first terrorist attack on tourists since the January 2011 revolution.

Three Korean tourists and the Egyptian bus driver were killed, while 14 others were injured in the blast on Sunday afternoon, security sources told Al-Ahram's correspondent in South Sinai.

Earlier, security sources had told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that the bus was targeted by a missile.

However, South Sinai governor Khaled Fouda told private satellite channel CBC TV that the blast resulted from an explosive device planted on the bus.

Fouda stressed that investigations are still underway: "Until they are over, we cannot be sure of the cause of the explosion."

Most casualties were taken to Taba and Nueiba hospitals, Ahram Arabic reporter Hani El-Asmar said. While the urgent cases were taken to Sharm El-Sheikh International Hospital.

Embassies can transfer their nationals via airplane if needed, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou told CBC.

Thirty tourists of various nationalities were on the bus when it was attacked.

The authorities have closed off the international road leading to Taba to search for the perpetrators.

A pattern of bombings and assassination attempts has been growing since Morsi's ouster.

The main targets have been police and military installations in the Sinai Peninsula.

There have also been an increasing number of attacks in Cairo and the Nile Delta region in recent months.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, an Al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist militant group based in Sinai, has taken responsibility for many recent attacks in Egypt.

The last major attack on tourists in Egypt took place in 2005 when a bomb killed 88 people in Sharm El-Sheikh.

The Egyptian tourism industry, once worth more than a tenth of the country's economic output, has been struggling to recover since the 2011 revolution.

It has suffered further blows since last summer's political upheaval, which saw Islamist president Mohamed Morsi ousted after mass protests against his rule.

Egypt welcomed around 8.7 million tourists in the first eleven months of 2013, compared with 10.5 million in the same period of 2012.

In October 2013, Zaazou said that Egypt aimed to attract 13.5 million visitors in 2014, to bring in around $11 billion.

More details to follow

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