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Deadly Terror Attack in Cairo Scares Tourism Operators
Deadly Terror Attack in Cairo Scares Tourism Operators
A homemade bomb attack that killed a French girl and injured 24 other people, including French and German tourists, in a busy bazaar in Cairo Sunday evening was met with shock and disappointment by Egypt’s tourism operators
Tuesday, February 24,2009 15:55
by Joseph Mayton METimes.com

A homemade bomb attack that killed a French girl and injured 24 other people, including French and German tourists, in a busy bazaar in Cairo Sunday evening was met with shock and disappointment by Egypt"s tourism operators.

The country"s health ministry reported that a 17-year-old French student had been killed. Officials said that 24 other people were hurt, including 13 fellow students in her group and four other French tourists, a German, three Saudi tourists, and three Egyptians.

A second device exploded later in the evening after police had evacuated the area and had been defusing the makeshift bomb. Blood stains could be visible on the ground as dozens of police had cordoned off the area in front of the popular Hussein mosque.

No group has taken responsibility for the attack, which is certain to drag the suffering tourism industry into worse doldrums.

Magdy Ragab, 42, a waiter at a nearby cafe, gave his account to Egyptian national television shortly after the incident.

"We were serving our customers and all of a sudden there was a loud noise. We saw heavy grey smoke and there were people running everywhere. Some people were injured by the stampede, not the shrapnel."

Waleed, a tourism operator says the future of the country"s number one source of foreign income looks bleak.

"This will have devastating effect on our economy and our business. We were already looking at a down year and this attack may just make things even worse. If people don"t come, it will be difficult," the Alexandria-based Joba Tours operator told the Middle East Times.

One Egyptian journalist, who requested anonymity, said the attack was "most certainly" related to the "government"s dealing of the Gaza war and someone probably got upset and turned to violence."

Egypt"s popular non-violent Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, expressed sorrow at the bombing and strongly condemned it.

Supreme Guide Mehki Akef called the bombing a "despicable act." On the group"s Web site, he said "these actions are against humanity and these bombings have nothing to do with religion that respects human life no matter what religious background or ethnicity the person might be. [The] Muslim Brotherhood regards these actions as ways that violate the methods toward the right change that should be through legal and constitutional peaceful procedures."

The Brotherhood has been accused of carrying out violent acts against the Egyptian government, although most analysts as well as its members have continually insisted that the group is completely non-violent.

Gamal al-Banna, brother of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, agreed. "They [Brotherhood] have always believed in my brother"s message of peace and hope. This is why the more vocally violent members have been removed from the movement," he said, referring to Sayyid Qutb, a member of the Brotherhood who was forced out of the group after his writings began to encourage violence.

He is often seen as the father of al-Qaida and modern Islamist terror groups. The 87-year-old Banna, who is not a member of the banned Islamic movement, said the Brotherhood "has never been involved in violence in Egypt."

Sunday"s bomb detonated near a local café frequented by tourists as dinnertime was approaching.

Khan el-Khalili is one of Egypt"s most popular tourist destinations, where foreigners often come to purchase souvenirs.

This is not the first time the popular market was targeted. In April, 2005, 21 people were killed in a suicide attack. Among them were 11 Egyptians, two French tourists, one American and seven unidentified foreigners. This was the first attack in a series of bombings that pushed tourists from the country, which relies on tourism for much of its foreign capital.

With the Egyptian economy already struggling due to the global economic recession, tourist operators are at a loss for now about how best to respond.

Posted in Activites , Human Rights  
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