Explosion hits tourist bus near Egyptian pyramids

Cairo: An explosion apparently targeting a bus filled with tourists near the pyramids of Giza in Egypt wounded at least 14 people Sunday, according to security officials and the state-run news media.

A bombed out bus in Cairo in March.Credit:AP

The attack occurred close to a giant national museum that is under construction near the pyramids and that is scheduled to open next year.

It was the second attack on tourists in Giza in six months, and it suggested that armed militants opposed to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi were seeking to undermine his authority by hitting tourists at a time when he is planning a gala opening for the long-awaited institution.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday's attack. Previous violence against tourists has been claimed by the Islamic State group's Egyptian affiliate and by other armed Islamist factions opposed to el-Sissi.

Four people, including three Vietnamese tourists and an Egyptian guide, died in a bomb attack on a tourist bus in Cairo in December.

There were no initial reports of deaths from Sunday's blast. Photographs posted to social media showed some people walking away from a bus whose side windows had been blown out. A construction site could be seen in the background.

Ahram Online, a state-run news outlet, said that the bus had been carrying 25 tourists from South Africa and that most of the 14 wounded were from that country. The extent of their injuries was unclear.

The new Grand Egyptian Museum is a prestige project for el-Sissi, who cemented his hold on power in April with a referendum that allows him to stay in his position until 2030.

Construction has been underway at the $US1 billion museum since 2002. Officials say it is scheduled to open in 2020, and el-Sissi has already said he intends to invite dignitaries from across the globe for the opening ceremony.

In a statement, a senior museum official said Sunday's blast did not damage their museum or any of its artifacts.

The December attack targeting a tourist bus took place on another road about 5 km from the pyramids. Soon after, Egyptian officials said that they had killed 40 people in reprisal for the assault in what they described as a series of raids across the country.

Human rights groups later cast doubt on the official account of that operation, saying that some of those killed were already in the custody of the security forces and might have been victims of extrajudicial executions.

The New York Times

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