3 European Tourists Stabbed at Egypt Resort, IS Affiliates Suspected
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
Egypt’s travel industry has received yet another black eye. After a disastrous 2015 that culminated in the crash of a Russian airliner — considered an Islamic State terrorist attack by many — the start of 2016 sees another attack on tourists by suspected IS militants.
According to the Associated Press, two men wielding knives and pellet guns attacked vacationers in the restaurant located at the front of the four-star seaside Bella Vista Hotel in the Egyptian resort town of Hurghada on the Red Sea late Friday, local time.
The victims were identified by an anonymous Egyptian hospital official as Austrians Renata and Wilhelm Weisslein, both 72, and Swedish citizen Sammie Olovsson, 27, the AP said. The official said to the AP that they “were only lightly wounded and in stable condition.” Nile Hospital Chairman Reda el-Naggar commented to the AP that the three should be discharged by Saturday.
Both attackers were shot by security forces, with one killed and the other wounded, and then taken into custody, the AP said.
Jan-Eric Olovsson, the 64-year-old father of the Swedish victim, said to the Swedish Expressen newspaper, via the AP, that they were eating dinner in the restaurant when the attackers entered.
"Everything went really fast. We sat there and ate and then they showed up," he said. "I thought they came from outside. I myself had the gun pointed at me three times, and Sammie was stabbed with the knife."
He said Sammie was stabbed four times in the neck but "did well" because he is physically strong, per the newspaper. "I told him to lie still," he said, recalling the sight of his son in a pool of blood. "I got up a few times and when I saw it was clear, I ran out on the street and tried to get hold of an ambulance."
"They don't say give me your wallet. They don't say give me your money," Sammie commented to the newspaper about his assailants. He then concluded they were "crazy guys."
Young Swede Zainab Feili, who survived the attack unharmed, described the scene to the AP, stating, "Everybody just ran... We hear shoot (shots). Everybody cries. It was awful."
German tourist Barbara Wolf, who was dining in the restaurant, commented about the attackers after they were shot by security forces, saying to the AP, "We saw a dead man on the floor. He was half naked... The other man next to him screamed of pains but nobody did anything. We have been so shocked."
Mohammed Beram, a retired military officer who offered help at the scene and lives nearby said to the AP, "They took their clothes off to make sure they were not hiding explosive belts underneath them," adding that the attacker who was killed by security forces was wearing an explosive vest.
Apollo, one of Sweden’s biggest tour operators, organized the Olovssons' trip, the AP said, and company head Peter Browall told the news service that guests were allowed to relocate after the attack.
"Some have decided to do so. Not all have. This is done based on individual dialogues we have with them," he told the AP. Hurghada is "a small destination for Apollo Sweden," Browall said. He didn’t have any figures on hand, but said interest in Egypt had “dropped” following recent attacks.
Commenting to reporters in English on the way to the hospital, Egypt's Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said, per the AP, "The good part that I can mention to you today or now is that these attackers, these agitators, are not a part of an organization," he emphasized, "it is an individually motivated agitation."
That may not be completely true.
The AP noted that this was the second hotel attack in as many days — an Islamic State-affiliate group took responsibility for an attack on a hotel in Cairo near the Pyramids on Thursday that did not cause injury or death.
No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack in Hurghada, the AP said, but the BBC cited reports that claimed the Hurghada assailants raised the IS flag. The British news service also said that Hurghada continues to be on high alert, and all roads in and out are closed off.
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