Egypt stepping up security in Sinai ahead of New Year’s influx

Thousands of European tourists expected to vacation in Red Sea resort area

Sharm el Sheikh in the Sinai (photo credit: CC-BY-SA  WomEOS, Flickr)
Sharm el Sheikh in the Sinai (photo credit: CC-BY-SA WomEOS, Flickr)

Egyptian security forces have beefed up preparedness in the Sinai Peninsula, as thousands of tourists are expected to descend on the area’s Red Sea resorts for the New Year’s holiday next week.

Tourism in the area has suffered since the Egyptian revolution and an outbreak of terror attacks in the rugged peninsula earlier this year. Nonetheless, some 5,000 tourists from Europe are scheduled to visit the resort town of Sharm el Sheikh for the holiday, according to the Arabic daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat.

In August Egypt launched a large anti-terror offensive in the Sinai, after an attack on an Egyptian border police post left 16 dead. The area was largely unpoliced for decades, as Israel sought to keep it as a demilitarized buffer zone.

On Wednesday, an Islamist group in the peninsula said it was launching a crusade against drug and cigarette users. Other groups in the peninsula have carried out kidnappings of Western tourists over the last several years.

In years past, Israeli tourism to the Sinai’s pristine beaches and relatively cheap resorts was popular, though it has mostly fallen off since the uptick in terror.

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