Suspected militants stab tourists in Egyptian hotel

Egyptian police and security stand in front of the Bella Vista Hotel in Hurghada, Egypt on Jan 9.
Egyptian police and security stand in front of the Bella Vista Hotel in Hurghada, Egypt on Jan 9.PHOTO: AFP

3 tourists injured; one assailant killed and another hurt in attack at Red Sea resort

CAIRO - Two suspected militants armed with knives have wounded three foreign tourists at a hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, the latest blow to Egypt's beleaguered tourism industry.

One of the assailants was killed at the scene and the other was badly wounded, police said, after they injured two Austrians and a Swede at the beachside Bella Vista hotel on Friday evening.

A video published by Egyptian news websites appears to show the wounded assailant receiving cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and being questioned on his identity. He appears to have been shot in both legs.

Security sources said the attackers had arrived by sea. Officials said officers had tightened checks across the area and shut off roads.

Swedish newspaper Expressen quoted the father of the Swede as saying he was "fine" and in hospital.

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT

I was in my room when I heard someone shouting. I went out on the balcony and could see a man waving a black flag with white writings on it. He was yelling loudly.

NORWEGIAN JON TORP, on what he heard and saw from his room at the beachside Bella Vista hotel.

Norwegian Jon Torp told Norway's VG newspaper that he had heard at least 24 shots as the attackers moved around the hotel.

"I was in my room when I heard someone shouting. I went out on the balcony and could see a man waving a black flag with white writings on it. He was yelling loudly," Mr Torp told VG.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Egypt is fighting a wave of Islamist militancy.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has a black and white flag, claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian passenger plane last October, killing all 224 people on board. Most of the victims were tourists returning home from the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, across the water from Hurghada.

The latest incident further threatened efforts to repair Egypt's damaged tourism industry as it occurred a day after a hotel in Cairo hosting Israeli tourists came under attack by a group of men.

ISIS militants claimed responsibility for that attack, which they said targeted "Jewish" tourists. Police said they were Arab-Israeli tourists.

The attack was in response to a call by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to target Jews "everywhere".

In Syria, an ISIS fighter shot and killed his own mother in front of a post office in the northern city of Raqqa, Syrian activists said, with one monitoring organisation adding that the problems began when she tried to persuade him to leave the extremist group.

 

Ali Saqr, 21, killed his mother in front of several hundred people for what ISIS called apostasy, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, two groups that monitor the conflict through contacts on the ground.

The act was the latest in a chain of brutal and bizarre killings that ISIS uses to tamp down dissent and to attract recruits.

It was not the first time that a member of ISIS had killed a parent on the group's orders.

Last year, a Lebanese father travelled to Raqqa to try to bring back his son, an ISIS fighter, and three other children whom the son had persuaded to go there.

The son reported the father, who was detained and killed, according to interviews with family members.

The events in Raqqa followed a similar trajectory, according to the Syrian Observatory. It said that the mother, whom it identified as Madam Lena al-Qasem, had urged her son to leave the group and flee Raqqa, its de facto capital, and that he reported her comments to the group. Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently said on Friday that her request was not the reason she was killed.

But both monitoring groups said ISIS had declared the mother guilty of apostasy and had ordered her death.

Raqqa residents said the woman was Alawite, a member of the heterodox Shi'ite sect that dominates the leadership of Syrian security forces. As ISIS considers Alawites apostates, it is a possible factor that led to the killing.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE,  NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 10, 2016, with the headline 'Suspected militants stab tourists in Egyptian hotel'. Print Edition | Subscribe