Friday, January 08, 2016

Attack at Hotel in Egypt Injures European Tourists
New York Times
JAN. 8, 2016

CAIRO — Two militants stormed into a hotel in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada on Friday, stabbing and wounding three European tourists, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said.

Security guards at the hotel, the Bella Vista Resort, opened fired on the assailants, who were armed with knives and a pellet gun, killing at least one of them, the government said. The injured tourists, two Austrians and a Swede, were transferred to a hospital. One was later discharged.

Security officials gave conflicting accounts of the attack at the beachfront resort. Photographs posted to social media, purported to be from the scene, showed the bodies of two attackers, as well as a piece of black cloth that resembled an Islamic State flag.

The attack was a fresh blow to Egypt’s tourism industry, which is still reeling from earlier attacks claimed by the local branch of the Islamic State, or ISIS.

On Friday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on Thursday at a hotel in Cairo where Israeli tourists were staying. The group said the attack was a response to a call by the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to target Jews “everywhere.”

But no one was injured in that attack, which caused light damage to a bus and the hotel facade. Officials said the Israeli tourists at the hotel were not Jews, but Arab Israelis.

In the attack at Hurghada, a popular diving resort, the Interior Ministry said the militants entered through a hotel restaurant facing the street and threatened the guests with knives.

The ministry identified one of the dead men as Mohamed Hassan Mohamed Mahfouz, who was from the Giza district of greater Cairo. Photographs from the scene showed the body of a bloodied man wearing jeans.

Cultural tourists stopped visiting Egypt in large numbers after the uprising in 2011 against former President Hosni Mubarak; the emergence of Islamic State insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula in late 2013 further depressed those numbers.

A suicide bomber and two gunmen attacked the Karnak temple in Luxor in June 2015, causing the government to increase security at tourist attractions. Beach resorts had remained popular with tourists, especially British and Russians, until the downing of the Russian plane in October.

Kareem Fahim and Amina Ismail contributed reporting.

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