An organization affiliated with the Islamic State terrorist group on Friday claimed responsibility for a Thursday attack on a hotel and tour bus that had been awaiting its Israeli passengers in Cairo.
In a statement carried by IS supporters on Twitter Friday, the group claimed the attack a day earlier left dead and injured among tourists and the security officers protecting the hotel.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry, however, said no one was hurt in the incident at the Three Pyramids Hotel, but the attack damaged the hotel’s facade and also a bus parked in front of the building.
Egyptian officials on Thursday said a gang of youths hurled fireworks and fired birdshot at the tour bus outside a hotel near Cairo’s pyramids. The Egyptian Interior Ministry said no one was hurt in the incident. But the Israeli Arab tourists said there had been heavy and lengthy gunfire.
According to a ministry statement, the attack targeted police guarding the hotel, who returned fire. The hotel’s facade and the bus parked in front of the building, which had been scheduled to ferry tourists from the northern Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm and the central city of Jaffa, were damaged in the incident.
“The first thing they fired was flares, and then they started firing at the bus. Later they started firing birdshot at the hotel and tried to throw Molotov cocktails at the bus,” said Jaber Jabarin, one of the Israelis staying at the hotel, who witnessed the attack.
After throwing Molotov cocktails, Jabarin said the attackers “started firing at the hotel with live bullets.” He described heavy, continuous gunfire.
In Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alon Lavi confirmed the bus that was hit was in use by a group of visiting Arab Israelis, but said no one was inside the bus at the time of the incident, and that no Israelis were hurt. He said Israel had been briefed on the incident by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.
Witness Bassam Muhammid told Israel’s Channel 2 news they were a group of 32 from Umm al-Fahm, and eight from Jaffa.
Egyptian media identified the tourists as “1948 Arabs” — a euphemism for Arabs who hold Israeli citizenship.
A suspect was arrested and police were still searching for the rest of the group, the Interior Ministry statement said. The shooter was part of a group of about 15 people.