Two German women stabbed to death – Kuwait condemns Egypt attacks
HURGHADA, Egypt, July 15, (Agencies): Police on Saturday questioned the suspected jihadist who stabbed to death two German women and wounded four others at a Red Sea beach resort, adding to the woes of Egypt’s hobbled tourism industry. Judicial sources said the man who had swum ashore from a public beach in Hurghada to carry out Friday’s attack confessed to sharing the ideology of the Islamic State jihadist group, although there was no IS claim of responsibility.
The sources said the suspect, a 28-year-old from Kafr al-Sheikh province in the Nile Delta, north of Cairo, has been transferred to the capital for questioning. At the same time, the prosecution, said in a statement that it had not yet confirmed the assailant’s motives and urged the media “to stop resorting to speculation or getting ahead of the investigation”.
The streets of Hurghada were being heavily patrolled and security was stepped up outside hotels on Saturday. “I was sitting down in my shop when we heard people shouting. We ran outside and heard that someone had swum to the next door hotel and was attacking foreigners,” said Rafic Rushdi, the owner of a hotel shop.
“After killing two women, he ran towards our hotel. He was shouting that he was not after Egyptians, and some Egyptians intervened to stop him.” After initial confusion over the nationality of the women killed, Berlin on Saturday said they were both German nationals, rather than Ukrainians as earlier reported. “I am very upset by this cowardly crime, my condolences to the families of the victims,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said. Among the four others wounded were two Armenian women and a woman from the Czech Republic, according to authorities in those countries. It was not the first attack in Hurghada.
In January 2016, three tourists were wounded in a stabbing assault in the resort by two assailants with apparent IS sympathies. Hurghada is one of Egypt’s most popular beach resorts, especially with Ukrainians and other European tourists. Egyptian authorities say they have boosted security at the country’s tourist sites, as the industry provides the Arab world’s most populous country with much-needed revenues. An IS bombing of a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers from a resort in the south of the Sinai Peninsula in 2015 killed all 224 people on board and decimated the country’s tourism sector. Russia suspended all flights to Egypt in response and has yet to resume them. IS has been waging a deadly insurgency concentrated in the north of the Sinai that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers.
5 police shot dead
Also on Friday, unknown assailants shot dead five policemen just south of Cairo, in the latest of a series of attacks targeting Egypt’s security forces. In the attack on the policemen, gunmen riding on a motorcycle opened fire on a security vehicle patrolling a Giza village, next to some of Egypt’s oldest pyramids outside of the capital, Cairo, killing the five policemen, the Interior Ministry and officials said.
The deadly shooting — on the Muslim weekend in Egypt, when traffic is slower — heightened fears of what has become near-weekly attacks by suspected Islamic militants after a blitz attack left 23 troops dead in northern Sinai a week ago.
Egypt has been under a months-long state of emergency following a series of deadly church bombings in the spring that killed scores of Christians. The village of Abusir in Badrashin, where the policemen were killed, is part of Greater Cairo.
The policemen were part of the force tasked to guard the district of Saqqara, one of Egypt’s most popular tourist sites and host to a collection of temples, tombs and funerary complexes. According to the ministry, the militants sprayed the policemen’s vehicle with machine-gun fire and fled the scene after one policeman returned gunfire.
However, a video widely circulated on social media appears to show the attackers faced no resistance. It shows them seizing the policemen’s weapons and radios and setting fire to the bodies after the shooting. Authorities cordoned off the area and ambulances rushed to the site, located near the famous Step Pyramid of King Djoser.
It is the oldest of Egypt’s more than 90 pyramids and the forerunner of the more familiar straightsided pyramids in Giza on the outskirts of Cairo. The killings came as police and the army said they were closing in on militants and jihadists following a spate of deadly attacks in the Nile Valley and the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt has struggled to quell IS jihadists based in the Sinai and smaller militant groups in the mainland since the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and cracked down on his supporters. While smaller groups such as the Hasam militant movement have mostly targeted policemen and government officials, IS has also attacked foreign tourists and Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority.
Dozens of Christians have been killed in church bombings and shootings since last December in attacks claimed by IS. The jihadists have threatened to carry out further attacks on Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people. On Thursday, churches in Egypt said they were suspending some activities such as conferences and religious trips for three weeks over security concerns.
An official source at the Foreign Ministry on Friday voiced Kuwait’s strong condemnation of the “terrorist attack” that targeted a security checkpoint in the city of El Badrashin, Giza Governorate, killing five policemen. The source reiterated Kuwait’s support to the “brothers in Egypt” and all the measures Cairo might take to protect the country’s security and stability.
The foreign ministry source reaffirmed Kuwait’s initial, and unwavering stance, that rejects violence and all forms of terrorism, and offered condolences to the Egyptian leadership, government and people as well as the victims’ families, praying for everlasting security and stability in the country. Meanwhile, Qatar has expressed its strong condemnation and denouncement of the two attacks. Qatar confirms its firm stand against terrorist and violent actions regardless of their motives and reasons, the foreign ministry said in a statement Friday.
Doha also expressed its sincere condolences to the victims’ families, wishing the wounded a swift recovery, added the statement. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also condemned the attacks. The OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen said that these attacks, which occurred yesterday, were acts of cowardice that should be strongly condemned. The OIC stands against all acts of terror and calls on the international community and world organizations to make the necessary efforts to prevent further attacks from occurring.