Cairo, Red Sea attacks deal new blows to Egypt

Egypt's Tourism Minister Hisham Zazou speaks to the media at the Nile hospital in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Hurghada on Jan 9.
Egypt's Tourism Minister Hisham Zazou speaks to the media at the Nile hospital in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Hurghada on Jan 9.PHOTO: AFP

CAIRO - Armed men shot dead a police officer and a soldier in their car on the outskirts of Cairo on Saturday, Egypt's state news agency said, a day after suspected militants armed with knives wounded three European tourists in a Red Sea resort.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the Cairo attack in a statement posted on messaging service Telegram.

Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said the government would announce additional security measures to safeguard tourists after Friday's attack, which wounded two Austrians and a Swede in the resort of Hurghada.

Tourism is critical to the Egyptian economy as a source of hard currency, but has been ravaged by years of political turmoil since the revolution that ousted president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

"The welfare of the tourists visiting Egypt is of the greatest importance to us and will continue to be so. No stone will be left unturned to ensure their security," Mr Zaazou said. "Over the coming days, we will announce even greater security measures to safeguard all tourists visiting Egypt."

Egypt is fighting a wave of Islamist militancy against security forces, which started in the remote regions of the Sinai but is increasingly spreading to the capital and to Red Sea beach resorts that were previously considered safe.

Two armed assailants were involved in the attack at the beachside Bella Vista hotel in Hurghada. Security forces shot and killed at least one of the attackers, officials said.

The Interior Ministry said one of the attackers was a student from the Cairo suburb of Giza.

Separately, Egypt's Parliament convened yesterday for the first time in more than three years after a court disbanded a legislature dominated by Islamists, as the authorities struggle to revive the nation's economy and contain the surge in militancy.

The 596-member legislature is set to debate laws signed by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the former general who led the ouster of president Mohamed Mursi in 2013, and who controlled executive and legislative powers in the absence of Parliament. Critics say the assembly will be largely a rubber-stamp legislature.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2016, with the headline 'Cairo, Red Sea attacks deal new blows to Egypt'. Print Edition | Subscribe