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Suspect arrested in Luxor attack  - Daily News Egypt

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Suspect arrested in Luxor attack 

Militants fired at the police checkpoint when their car was being searched, three suspects still at large

One suspect was arrested following a militant attack on a checkpoint in the city of Esna, north of Luxor, took place last Thursday, killing a lower ranking policeman and a civilian, and injuring three others.

Police said that the suspects where in a pickup truck and passed by the police checkpoint. When being searched, the police narrative says, as published by state media, police personnel took heavy fire, as the suspects escaped the scene leaving the vehicle behind.

State media reported that the arrested suspect was carrying explosives and an explosive belt. The abandoned vehicle contained automatic weapons and a hand grenade. The suspect is currently being interrogated by the prosecution.

The dead policeman, named Mohamed Al-Bey, belonged to the Esna Traffic Department in Luxor, while the civilian, named Mohamed Al-Khatib, was passing by the checkpoint when the incident took place.

Following the incident, police forces said that intensifying efforts are being taken to find the rest of the suspects.

It is not yet known what the objectives of the suspects were.

Luxor has been far from the militancy Egypt has been facing ever since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

The only incident that took place was in June 2015, when two militants died and five Egyptians were injured in a suicide attack in the area of the Al-Karnak temple in Luxor. One of the militants died as a result of the detonation of an explosive device in his possession, an interior ministry statement read, without mentioning details on the precise cause of death of the second fatality. A third militant was injured during the exchange of fire between security forces and the militants. The injuries included Egyptian civilians and security personnel.

Since July 2013, militant Islamist groups have frequently targeted security personnel in North Sinai, amounting to a bloody fight between army and police forces against militant Islamists.

However, attacks that target touristic sites have been rare, with the exception of an attack on a tour bus in Taba, Sinai, killing three tourists in 2014.

The Luxor attack brings back memories of the 1990s, when Egypt witnessed an insurgency by Islamist militant groups, which had specifically targeted tourist destinations.

In 1997, members of the Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya salafist group attacked the Hatshepsut Temple in Luxor, killing 58 tourists and four Egyptians.

In 2004, bomb attacks targeting the South Sinai city of Taba killed 34, and in 2005, Islamist militants targeted the resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh using car bombs. This resulted in the deaths of 88 people. In 2006, militants targeted the resort of Dahab, also in South Sinai, when suicide bombers killed 24 people.

Tourism, an important source of income for Egypt, suffered a major blow as a result of the upheaval in the years following the 25 January Revolution. The government under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has made intensive efforts to regain the trust of foreign tourists, which has resulted in a gradual improvement of tourism influx in the past year.

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