Police kill attacker as 3 tourists stabbed at Egyptian resort
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Police kill attacker as 3 tourists stabbed at Egyptian resort

Second assailant injured in second attack on foreigners in as many hours after IS affiliate claims shooting on Cairo hotel

Egyptian forensic experts inspect a bullet-riddled window at the entrance of the Three Pyramids hotel in Cairo where Israeli tourists were shot at, January 7, 2016. (AFP Photo/ Khaled Desouki)
Egyptian forensic experts inspect a bullet-riddled window at the entrance of the Three Pyramids hotel in Cairo where Israeli tourists were shot at, January 7, 2016. (AFP Photo/ Khaled Desouki)

Two suspected militants stabbed and wounded three foreign tourists — two Austrians and a Swede — at a hotel in Egypt’s Red Sea resort city of Hurghada on Friday, the Interior Ministry said.

Security forces opened fire at the two assailants, killing one and seriously wounding the other, according to a ministry statement. The wounded attacker was arrested, according to security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Security forces claimed one of the attackers was wearing a suicide bomb, according to the Daily Mail.

It is the second attack on a hotel frequented by foreign tourists in Egypt in as many days, an ominous development for the country’s already battered tourism industry.

The Friday evening attack came just hours after the local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack a day earlier on a hotel and tour bus that had been awaiting its Arab Israeli passengers in Cairo.

The Egyptian Interior Ministry said no one was hurt in the Thursday incident. But the Israeli tourists said there had been heavy and lengthy gunfire.

The attacks came less than three months after a Russian airliner was downed over the Sinai Peninsula shortly after it took off from Sharm el-Sheikh, another popular Red Sea resort in Egypt. All 224 people on board, most of them Russian, were killed. The local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group claimed responsibility for downing the aircraft, saying it had planted a bomb aboard.

The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, said two men armed with knives had entered the restaurant at the front of the seaside, four-star Bella Vista Hotel and attacked the tourists.

The ministry identified the slain attacker as 21-year-old Mohammed Hassan Mohammed Mahfouz, a student from Cairo’s neighborhood of Giza. Both attackers, it said, carried knives and pellet guns.

All three wounded tourists were taken to hospital, where one was treated and discharged, the statement said. There was no word in the statement on the condition of the other two, but Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed described the condition of the three as “not serious.”

Security officials had initially said the attackers wounded two tourists, a Dane and a German, but such discrepancies are common in the immediate aftermath of terror attacks.

A member of the hotel’s management staff who witnessed the incident said the attackers sneaked into the Bella Vista from a hotel next door, accessing the facility from the beach.

Israeli tourists wave from a bus as they leave the Three Pyramids hotel in Cairo's al-Harm district on January 7, 2016. (AFP Photo/ Khaled Desouki)
Israeli tourists wave from a bus as they leave the Three Pyramids hotel in Cairo’s al-Harm district on January 7, 2016. (AFP Photo/ Khaled Desouki)

The slain attacker, he said, appeared to want to take a female tourist hostage, dragging her into the hotel’s lobby with his knife held against her neck when he was shot dead by a policeman.

The witness spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the hotel’s management regulations.

Egypt has been battling an insurgency by Islamic militants led by the local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group. The insurgency has been centered at the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula but has frequently spilled over into the mainland since the ouster in 2013 of the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The Hurghada attack is a dangerous precedent since Egypt’s Red Sea resorts have done better than elsewhere in the country in weathering the slump suffered by the city’s vital tourism sector in the five years of turmoil since an uprising toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Thursday’s Giza attack was also significant in that it targeted a hotel in Cairo, a heavily policed city of some 18 million residents, at a time when security appeared to improve in recent months after a series of bomb attacks.

Times of Israel staff and Agencies contributed to this report

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