A bomb on the Egypt side of the Sinai Peninsula border with Israel Sunday blew up a bus full of South Korean tourists, killing three as well as the Egyptian bus driver, has raised alarm that Islamic militants are once again targeting foreign tourists for bloody attacks.
There were 33 South Korean tourists on the bus, almost all of them suffering injuries in the blast, 12 of those described as serious, from the bomb which according to an Al Jazeera report was planted under the driver’s seat of the private Egypt tour bus, operated by Craft Tours.
But the Egypt Interior Ministry did not confirm where the bomb was planted on the bus. Security officials told The Associated Press that they thought the bomb was not placed on board the bus at all, but instead was a roadside or car bomb that terrorists set off via a remote control detonation.
No group or individual has yet claimed responsibility for the latest Egypt bomb. But since Egypt’s elected, Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in a military coup last July, militants speculated to have ties to Al Qaeda have waged a terror campaign against Egyptian forces in the northern Sinai.
Sunday’s bombing took place in Taba, a resort town along the Red Sea in the Sinai Peninsula’s southern region, however. The deadly bombing was the first major attack in the southern Sinai since a trio of bombings in 2004 to 2006 killed a total of 120 people.
The attack on tourists also signals a frightening change in tactics for the Islamic insurgency, if indeed Sunday’s Egypt bomb turns out to be the work of the Al Qaeda-connected militants. After the overthrow on Mursi, the insurgents limited their targets largely to police and the Egypt military, which they view as arms of an illegal government.
The bus was carrying South Korean Christians from a church in the city of Jincheon, who had made a pilgrimage to the central Sinai monastery of St. Mary’s.
Egypt Tourism Ministry Spokesperson Rasha El-Azazaizi called the bus bomb “a lowly and despicable act.”