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Monday, November 17, 1997 Published at 17:52 GMT


Egyptian tourist massacre

Wounded were flown to military hospitals in Cairo

More than sixty people are reported to have been killed in an attack on a group of foreign tourists visiting a temple in southern Egypt.

Egyptian police said most of the dead were Japanese and Swiss tourists.

They said several gunmen and police were killed in the ensuing shoot-out.

The bus was fired on as it visited the temple of Hatshepsut, one of the main historic sites at the town of Luxor in southern Egypt.

[ image: Many were injured in the attack]
Many were injured in the attack
An Interior Ministry official said: "Police have dealt with unspecified number of attackers in Luxor after they shot at a bus carrying tourists.

"Some of them were either wounded or killed." He gave no further details of the shoot-out on the west bank of the River Nile.

The town, is the site of the Luxor and Karnak Pharaonic temples, two of Egypt's most popular tourist destinations.

[ image: Ruins around Luxor are among Egypt's most popular tourist attractions]
Ruins around Luxor are among Egypt's most popular tourist attractions
The surrounding area has hundreds of Pharaonic era tombs of kings, queens and noblemen.

Police said hijackers took control of the bus and drove it to the west bank where they exchanged gunfire with police.

All police officers in the city were sent to the area, a police source said in Luxor.

Hiroshi Sato, at the Japanese Embassy in Cairo, said: "I know at least three Japanese have been killed and one seriously injured. We are trying to account for teh others.

"Until the whole picture is known I am advising Japanese tourists not to travel."

[ image: Medic:
Medic: "Not many survived the attack"
On September 18, nine Germans and an Egyptian driver were killed when gunmen opened fire on a bus in Cairo.

Two brothers were convicted of the crime and sentenced to death.

They claimed to be defending Islam but authorities said they were not part of any organized group.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the latest attack. But Islamic radical groups have been blamed for similar attacks in the past.

The state-run Cairo TV reported that the gunmen "fired indiscriminately on people present at one of the tourist areas - foreigners, Egyptians and policemen."

The station referred to the attackers as "terrorist elements," a phrase usually reserved for Islamic militants.

The south is the stronghold of Islamic militants who are waging a campaign to oust President Hosni Mubarak's secular government and replace it with strict Muslim rule.

Most of the militancy has been confined to southern Egypt, the stronghold of Muslim militants who launched a campaign in 1992 to topple the secular government of President Hosni Mubarak and replace it with a purist Islamic state.

The campaign has claimed more than 1,200 lives so far, including more than 30 tourists.

The militants have also targetted policemen and Coptic Christians. The government has launched a series of crackdowns against the two main extremist groups, the Jihad group, whose members killed the former President, Anwar Sadat, and the Gamaat Islamiya or Islamic group.

Mid East specialist Adel Darwish analyses the Egyptian massacre
The BBC Middle East correspondent, Jim Muir, discusses the tourist massacre

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage

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Internet Links

The tourist attractions of Luxor

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