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Wednesday, November 19, 1997 Published at 18:17 GMT


Luxor locals express anger, sorrow at massacre

The massacre has been disastrous for Luxor locals

The massacre of foreign tourists in Luxor has raised fears about its impact on the local economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism.

BBC Correspondent Barbara Plett said that the tourist bazaar was eerily quiet at a popular temple near Luxor on Wednesday. Shopkeepers unfurled banners expressing anger and sorrow.

"The blood of our guests in the land of Luxor is the blood of millions of Egyptians," read one. "No, no, and thousands of times No to terrorism", said another.

Store owners could only say they hoped business would pick up soon. Shopkeepers said the number of visitors was down by about 75%.

One proprietor said that Egyptians were upset by more than the blow to their livelihood.

"Believe me, we feel sorry for every person who was killed as if he was a brother or a son or a father, you know. Because we think that they are our guests here and Egyptians naturally they love their guests. And believe me that's against Islam."

Egyptians held hostage by attack

[ image: Egypt's reputation is suffering]
Egypt's reputation is suffering

The first signs of an economic slump have the locals worried. Thousands of tourists have fled Egypt; many more around the world have decided to scrap their tours following the massacre at the Hatshepsut temple.

On the streets there is sadness and anger at the militants who so brutally slaughtered scores of helpless people.

[ image: Shopkeepers sit idly in the Luxor markets]
Shopkeepers sit idly in the Luxor markets
The shopkeepers said they and other Luxor residents planned to march to Hatshepsut Temple to lay flowers in memory of the victims.

Some of them are also saying that security guards had not been diligent enough, that there had not been enough police at the site.

Rays of hope

Nevertheless they have faith that things will change. Militants had never struck in Luxor before and President Mubarak has promised to tighten security.

There are some signs of hope.

To the joy of Egyptian officials, tourists turned out in unexpectedly large numbers at the Giza Pyramids on Wednesday. An official said that 1,500 visited the site, compared to 4,000 on a normal day.

"It's below the normal number, but the important thing is that they are here. We are very happy at this," the director of the Pyramids site, Zahi Hawass said.

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