Egypt raids kill bus blast zealots

Top News | 31 Dec 2018

Egypt says its security forces have killed 40 militants in raids on their hideouts in the Sinai Peninsula and Cairo, just hours after a roadside bomb targeted a tourist bus in the capital, killing three Vietnamese tourists and their Egyptian guide.

The Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, said 10 of the militants were killed when the security forces stormed their hideout in el-Arish, a coastal city in the turbulent north of Sinai, epicenter of a long-running insurgency by Islamists.

Another 14 were killed in the Cairo suburb of October 6 and 16 more in a housing project on a highway heading west from Cairo. The statement said the militants were preparing for attacks on government and tourism facilities, army and police personnel, as well as Christian churches.

The ministry also released a series of images purportedly depicting some of the militants killed in the raids, with assault rifles seen next to their bloodied bodies.

The statement did not say when the raids happened, suggesting that the timing of its release was designed at least in part to show that security forces were scoring successes against militants across the country and staunch potential criticism of their perceived failure to protect tourists.

The area where the attack happened - Marioutiyah, near the famed Giza Pyramids - has seen a series of attacks over the past two years, mostly targeting the police. It is also widely suspected of being home to jihadist cells loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group removed from power by the military in 2013 after its divisive rule lasted one year.

The attack came as Egypt's vital tourism industry was showing signs of recovery after years in the doldrums.

Egypt has battled militants for years in the Sinai Peninsula in an insurgency that has occasionally spilled over to the mainland, striking minority Christians or tourists. However, Friday's attack was the first to target foreign tourists in almost two years.

Friday's blast wounded 11 Vietnamese tourists as well as the Egyptian driver of the bus, which was carrying 15 Vietnamese tourists, said Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ten were seriously injured.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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