News / Middle East

Egypt Militants Warn Tourists to Leave or Face Attack

Security officials and onlookers are seen at the site of a tourist bus blast in the Egyptian south Sinai resort town of Taba, Feb. 16, 2014.
Security officials and onlookers are seen at the site of a tourist bus blast in the Egyptian south Sinai resort town of Taba, Feb. 16, 2014.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— A militant Islamist group has warned tourists to leave Egypt and threatened to attack any who stay in the country after February 20, raising the prospect of a new front in a fast-growing insurgency.

The Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group, which claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed two South Korean tourists and an Egyptian on Sunday, made the statement on an affiliated Twitter account.

“We recommend tourists to get out safely before the expiry of the deadline,” read the tweet, written in English.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has said in the past that it does not post statements on social media sites but statements that appeared on the Twitter account in the past have afterwards surfaced on jihadi websites the group does say it uses.

Islamist militants have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the army deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July, but Sunday's attack on a tourist bus marks a strategic shift to soft targets that could devastate an economy already reeling from political turmoil.

“What Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has announced, threatening to target tourists in the coming period, puts new challenges in front of the Egyptian security apparatus and the state in general,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif.

Tourists scared

The uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011 scared off many tourists, dealing a major blow to an industry that was a major employer and accounted for more than 10 percent of gross domestic product before the anti-Mubarak revolt.

Visitors are down to a trickle since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi deposed Morsi, triggering a bloody political crisis.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Egypt's most active Islamist militant organization, has threatened to topple the interim government installed by Sisi.

Ansar enjoys tacit support from at least some of the marginalized Bedouin community and smugglers in the Sinai. This has enabled them to survive several army offensives in the largely lawless peninsula.

“Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis poses the most formidable security threat in current-day Egypt,” said Anthony Skinner, Middle East and North Africa director at risk analyst Maplecroft.

“This is not only reflected in the attack on the tourist bus in Taba last weekend, but also in the series of bombings in the Nile Valley and Nile Delta regions.”

In one of the boldest attacks claimed by Ansar, a car bomb killed 16 people at security headquarters in the city of Mansoura on Dec. 24. The attack was claimed on the same Twitter account before jihadi sites carried the official statement.

While security forces have crushed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has become more brazen.

The group has extended its reach beyond the Sinai to cities including Cairo, where they claimed responsibility for an assassination attempt on the interior minister.

“This statement, if genuine, would add tourism quite explicitly to the target set already outlined by Ansar, which includes security forces and economic interests of the state and the army,” said Anna Boyd, an analyst at London-based IHS Jane's.

An army source told Reuters that the latest militant attacks were a reaction to a military offensive which was hurting militants. “They are breathing their last breath,” he said.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid