Egyptian police say they have killed 40 suspected “terrorists” who were planning a spate of attacks on churches and tourist sites, following a deadly roadside bombing of a tour bus on Friday.
The alleged terrorists were killed in raids in the Sinai Peninsula and the Giza governorate, which was also the scene of the tour bus attack where three Vietnamese tourists and an Egyptian guide were killed.
Two raids in the Giza governorate killed 30 “terrorists”, while the remaining 10 were killed in the North Sinai, the Egyptian interior ministry said in a statement.
It said the authorities took action after receiving a tip-off about the suspects preparing a series of attacks against state buildings, tourist attractions and churches. “Information was received by the national security that a group of terrorists were planning to carry out a series of aggressive attacks targeting state institutions, particularly economic ones, as well as tourism, armed forces, police and Christian places of worship,” the statement said.
Early on Friday evening, a roadside bomb hit a tour bus in the Al-Haram district near the Giza pyramids. A statement from the public prosecutor’s office said 11 other tourists from Vietnam and an Egyptian bus driver were wounded. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, the first attack to target tourists since 2017.
Saigon Tourist, the tour company that organised the trip, said the Vietnamese tourists were “on their way to a restaurant for dinner” when the bomb exploded. Company officials travelled to Cairo on Saturday and plans were made to allow some relatives of the victims to also fly to Egypt.
The attack came as Egypt’s vital tourism industry is showing signs of recovery after years in the doldrums due to political turmoil and violence that followed a 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Hosni Mubarak. It will likely prompt authorities to tighten security around churches and associated facilities ahead of the New Year’s Eve celebrations and next month’s Christmas celebrations of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the dominant denomination among Egypt’s estimated 10 million Christians.
Over the past two years, militant attacks against Christians in Egypt – usually targeting churches or buses carrying pilgrims to remote desert monasteries – have killed over a hundred people.