On May 19, a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) planted on the side of the road exploded and struck a tourist bus and a civilian vehicle near the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza governorate, about 2,5 kilometres (km) northwest of the Giza Pyramids in Al-Haram district. The medium-impact incident wounded 17 people, including ten Egyptian and seven South African nationals. According to local reports, 28 passengers were aboard the bus.
Hours after the attack, security forces carried out raids and killed 12 alleged militants in response. Seven alleged militants were killed and four firearms, along with materials used to make explosive devices were seized in an apartment in the 6th of October City, Giza governorate. Five other alleged militants, who were reportedly planning to conduct an attack, were killed in Al-Shorouk City, Cairo governorate. Five automatic rifles and two explosive devices were also seized during this raid.
At the time of writing, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Local police sources suggest the alleged militants killed in the overnight raids were members of the Hasam Movement, and directly linked to the attack. However, ICESERVE24 has noted that the Hasam Movement’s modus operandi has thus far been limited to the targeting of state officials, state infrastructure, diplomatic areas and security forces, refraining from directly targeting civilians.
ICESERVE24 has previously noted on multiple occasions that the number and degree of counter-terror raids will increase by local police and military operations following high-profile attacks. The nature of these raids has raised questions of arbitrary and extra-judicial targeting of citizens with perceived ties to outlawed groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and other noted militant groups like the Hasam Movement and the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
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The latest incident against tourists visiting Giza took place in December 2018 when a bus with Vietnamese tourists aboard was struck by a roadside bomb hidden next to a fence in Al-Marioutiya street, resulting in the death of three tourists and one Egyptian tour guide. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
A similar attack was conducted last November, when two buses transporting Coptic Christians from the Saint Samuel the Confessor Monastery in the Western Desert, were targeted by armed Islamist militants. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in which at least 16 people died.
Despite military and police efforts to restore law and order, and the decrease in incidents of militancy within mainland Egypt, alongside efforts by the Ministry of Tourism to promote Egypt as a safe destination following the 2011 uprising and later instability, Egypt continues to experience bouts of attacks against the country’s tourism industry, particularly attacks targeting foreigners.
The ongoing Comprehensive Operation Sinai has failed to produce the wanted results in mainland Egypt, 16 months after it was launched. While militant attacks have considerably decreased from the rate of attacks in 2017-2018 in the Sinai Peninsula, the Nile Delta and western Desert continue to face security risks derived from persisting militant and criminal activity. With a state of emergency still in place since April 2017, and renewed for the eighth time in April 2019, security forces and the military have dramatically increased their presence around vital installations and soft targets, successfully managing to thwart several attempts. Nonetheless, the security threat level in the country remains medium to high.
TIMING AND CONTEXT
While the timing and the target of the attack bears the hallmark of ISIS, the group is known to claim all attacks which are directly orchestrated or inspired by the group. On the contrary, this attack resembles the capabilities and explosives utilised in the December 2018 tourist bus attack, which was never claimed by any militant group.
With the Cup of African Nations approaching, it is likely that militant groups will seek to target the tourist industry with the aim of destabilising potential economic opportunities for the state as well as local businesses.