Terror Attack at the Giza Pyramids Injures 16
In Egypt, security sources have announced a suspected bomb attack on a tourist bus near the world-famous Giza pyramids. Initial reports indicate that 16 people were hurt in the attack, but that their injuries are believed to be relatively minor. If this is confirmed to be a terrorist bombing then it would be the latest in a long string of incidents, that are aimed at disrupting Egypt’s vital tourism sector.
It is believed that what was an improvised explosive device detonated as a bus filled with tourists was waiting in traffic. The explosion occurred at a wall with a fence and it strew debris over the road. This appears to have been a roadside bomb attack, a well-known terrorist tactic in the Middle East.
Possible Giza bomb attack
The Independent quotes a witness to the attack, Mohamed el-Mandouh, as stating that, “he heard a ‘very loud explosion’ while sitting in traffic nearby.” According to the BBC, ‘images showing a damaged bus with its windows blown out and what looked to be injured tourists, some covered in blood, have been circulated on social media’. It is believed that at least sixteen people were injured in the bomb blast, but there are no reports of any fatalities. First reports indicate that the majority of the wounded only suffered relatively minor injuries. According to the Independent, the injured ‘included South African nationals.’
Attack near the pyramids of Giza
The suspected terrorist attack occurred near the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is located some one and a half miles (2km) away from the pyramids in Giza. RT news reports that ‘the museum, still under construction, is set to be the largest archaeological museum in the world.’ It is due to open in 2020. Many priceless artifacts and treasures are going to be placed on display here, including some from the tomb of Tutankhamun.
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Grand Egyptian Museum, Giza, Egypt. (CC BY-SA 4.0)
It appears that the tourist bus had or was going to visit the pyramids at Giza. This is a necropolis with several famous, pyramids and is the site of the Great Sphinx. It is located some 8 miles or 12 km south of Cairo and is a very popular tourist site, visited by millions of people every year.
If this is confirmed to have been a terrorist attack it will have been the second in recent months. According to the BBC, ‘three Vietnamese tourists and a local tour guide were killed after a roadside bomb hit their bus’, in December 2018. Egypt has a long history of terrorists targeting foreign visitors.
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History of terrorists attacking tourists
Since the 1990s Islamic fundamentalist militants have launched often devastating attacks on foreign visitors. In 1997, some 62 people mostly international tourists were killed by attackers at Luxor. Since the Arab Spring in 2011 and the subsequent imposition of military rule, there has been an upsurge in terrorist attacks in the country. In 2015 some 224 people were killed when a Russian jet was downed by a bomb. The majority of those who died were holidaymakers.
The attacks on tourists are all designed to do harm to Egypt’s economy. Tourism is the main source of foreign currency for the country and hundreds of thousands of jobs depend on the sector. The industry suffered a severe downturn after the Arab Spring, and this led to an economic recession in the country. However, in recent years the sector has begun to slowly recover.
Egypt’s attraction for foreigners is mainly its historic sites such as the pyramids at Giza. If these are considered to be dangerous this could impact negatively on the Egyptian tourism sector. The Egyptian government already has a very significant security presence at popular visitor attractions. It will no doubt step up its efforts to minimize the terrorist threat at Giza and other sites.
Top image: Khafra and Cheops pyramids in Giza, Egypt Source: fadamson / Adobe Stock
By Ed Whelan