Egyptian Behind 'Cowardly Attack' on Tourists Likely Linked to IS

Published July 16th, 2017 - 05:00 GMT
Egyptian Ahmed Abdullah, Governor the Red Sea, visits injured tourists in hospital (AFP)
Egyptian Ahmed Abdullah, Governor the Red Sea, visits injured tourists in hospital (AFP)

An Egyptian accused of killing two German tourists in a knife attack the day before at the resort town of Hurghada belongs to the Islamic State extremist militia, a security source said on Saturday.

"He communicated with the organization via internet and was given the task of attacking foreign tourists on Hurghada beaches," the source close to ongoing investigations, added without details.

So far, there has been no claim of responsibility from Islamic State, a group that has taken credit for a series of previous attacks in Egypt. 

Egypt’s high state security prosecution, which is investigating the incident, said the motive for the attack was not clear yet.

“It has not been proven to the prosecution if it was an individual act or a criminal or terrorist incident,” it added in a statement.

The alleged assailant, identified as Abdel-Rahman Shaaban, is a 28-year-old university graduate from the Nile Delta province of Kafr al-Sheikh, dpa has learnt.

He had reportedly arrived early Friday in Hurghada, where he had bought the knife used in the attack.

However, a relative of the suspect told state-run newspaper al-Ahram that Shaaban went to Hurghada to search for a job. 

The suspect has no criminal record, private newspaper al-Masry al-Youm reported on Saturday, citing an unnamed security official.

“His file has no criminal or political case,” the unnamed official said. “He has a good reputation in his village.”

The Egyptian Interior Ministry said Friday the attacker was immediately arrested.

Four other tourists were injured in the attack.

Germany's Foreign Ministry on Saturday confirmed that two German women died in the attack.

"We now have the sad certainty that two German vacationers died during the attack in Hurghada," read a statement.

The ministry assumes the attacker was targeting tourists.

"According to everything we know, the incident was supposed to single out foreign tourists - a particularly malicious and criminal act that leaves us sad, troubled and angry."

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called the incident a "cowardly attack" and said he was "deeply troubled" by the news, according to comments posted by the ministry on Twitter. 

The two German victims were from the north-western state of Lower Saxony, the state’s Interior Ministry said.

Egypt's tourism industry, a main source of national income, has been in the doldrums since the 2011 uprising against long-time dictator Hosny Mubarak.

The industry suffered a serious blow in 2015 when a Russian passenger jet broke up in mid-air shortly after taking off from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

Moscow said the crash was caused by a bomb, and banned flights to Russia from Egyptian airports in response.

Islamic State, which operates in the Sinai peninsula, claimed to have downed the plane.

Egypt has seen a spate of deadly militant attacks since the army’s 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi following massive protests against his rule.

The attacks have mainly targeted security forces and Egypt's minority Christians.

Police on Saturday shot dead four suspected militants in a clash in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, a security source said.

The four “terrorists” shot at a police unit that returned fire and killed them, the source told dpa, on condition of anonymity.

The incident is the latest in a series of clashes between security forces and suspected hardliners in Egypt.

Last week, police said they had killed 14 extremists in an exchange of fire in Ismailia.

Saturday’s violence comes a day after five policemen were killed in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Giza near Cairo.

© 2022 dpa GmbH

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