Middle East

Bomb blast hits tourist bus near Egypt pyramids, 17 injured

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An explosion targeting a tourist bus injured at least 12 people on Sunday, mostly South African tourists, near a new museum being built close to the Giza pyramids in Egypt, security sources said.

A bomb blast hit a tourist bus near Egypt's famed Giza pyramids on Sunday, wounding some of them, including South Africans, in the latest blow to the country's tourism industry.

The roadside bomb went off as the bus was being driven in Giza, also causing injuries to Egyptians in a nearby car, medical and security sources said.

Officials inspect a bus that was damaged by a bomb, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, March 19, 2019 (AAP)
Most of those hurt suffered minor injuries, while three were treated in hospital, officials said.
AAP

Security and medical sources in Egypt said 17 people were injured, without giving a breakdown of their nationalities. No deaths were reported.

Sources said a rudimentary device containing nails and pieces of metal had been detonated remotely on the perimeter of the Grand Egyptian Museum, not far from the site of a roadside blast that hit another tourist bus in December.

"A device exploded and smashed the windows of a bus carrying 25 people from South Africa and a private car carrying four Egyptians," the security source said.

Video footage captured by AFP showed the bus and car with broken windows on the side of the road.

According to the security source, the wounded were being treated for scratches caused by the broken glass.

Sunday's incident comes after three Vietnamese holidaymakers and their Egyptian guide were killed when a roadside bomb hit their bus as it travelled near the Giza pyramids outside Cairo in December.

It also comes just little more than a month before the African Cup of Nations hosted by Egypt is to kick off.

Police inspect a car and a bus that were damaged by a bomb, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, March 19, 2019 (AAP)
A car carrying locals was also damaged by the bomb.
AAP

Egypt has been battling an insurgency that surged especially in the turbulent North Sinai region following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was replaced by former army general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide operation against militants, focusing mainly on the North Sinai region.

Tourism recovery 

Some 650 militants and about 45 soldiers have been killed since the start of the offensive, according to separate statements by the armed forces.

Since first being elected in 2014, Sisi has presented himself as a bulwark against terrorism, promising stability and increased security.

Recently, the country's vital tourism industry has started to slowly rebound after suffering strong blows due to deadly attacks targeting tourists following the turmoil of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Figures by the official statistics agency showed that tourist arrivals reached 8.3 million in 2017, compared with 5.3 million the previous year. 

Authorities have gone at great lengths to lure tourists back, touting a series of archaeological finds and a new museum next to the pyramids, as well as enhanced security at airports and around ancient sites. 

But that figure was still far short of the record influx of 2010 when more than 14 million visitors flocked to see the country's sites.

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