Five people died and at least 20 were injured in an explosion Sunday afternoon on a South Korean tourist bus on the Egyptian side of the Israel-Egypt border crossing at Taba, south of the Red Sea port of Eilat.
i24News The Muslim Brotherhood, now designated as a terrorist group, denies its involvement in the bombings. But Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, an Al-Qaeda* linked Islamist militant group based in Sinai, has taken responsibility for many recent terror attacks in Egypt.
*The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt founded al-Qaeda to serve as its militant arm.
It is the first attack on tourists during a terrorist campaign that has rocked the country since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The blast resulted from an explosive device planted on the bus.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Militants in the restive peninsula have waged a deadly insurgency against the military and police since the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July.
Scores of police officers and soldiers have been killed in bombings in Sinai and the Nile Delta, but Sunday’s blast is the first targeting tourists since Morsi was deposed.
Egypt has been conducting a massive campaign against Islamic radicals in the Sinai Peninsula in recent months but so far, most of the fighting has not reached the popular tourist destinations of northeastern Sinai, near the border with Israel.
Sunday’s bombing came as a court in Cairo opened the trial of Morsi and 35 co-defendants on charges of espionage and collusion with militants to carry out attacks in Egypt. The military-installed government has accused Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood of masterminding the attacks that have also targeted police headquarters in Cairo.
The deadliest attacks have been claimed by the Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group, whose leadership is drawn from militant Bedouin who want an Islamist state in the peninsula. The group also took responsibility for downing a military helicopter in Sinai on January 25 using a heat seeking shoulder fired missile.
That attack prompted concerns that militants could use such weapons to target commercial flights to resorts in south Sinai.