The death toll resulting from the improvised explosive device (IED) attack on a bus carrying Vietnamese tourists in Giza on Friday rose to four victims, including three Vietnamese tourists and one Egyptian citizen, according to Egypt’s General Prosecutor Nabil Sadek’s announcement, which came shortly after the attack.
On Friday evening, a roadside IED exploded in Al-Mariouteya street when a bus carrying 14 Vietnamese tourists, an Egyptian driver and a tour guide was passing by. The other 10 tourists on the bus and the bus driver were injured, and were immediately sent to Al-Haram hospital following the attack.
Sadek ordered an urgent investigation into the deadly explosion and demanded the Supreme State Security Prosecution and the Southern Giza Prosecution to conduct the necessary inspection of the explosion scene and to carry out an investigation with the eyewitnesses and the injured tourists. He also ordered the conduction of an urgent autopsy for the deceased individuals.
Furthermore, Sadek requested from the investigators to undertake forensic investigations to determine the nature of the materials used to make the IED, and to check any of the CCTV footage present in the vicinity of the explosion.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and the Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat visited the injured, shortly after their arrival to the hospital. Madbouly instructed the doctors to provide all the necessary medical care, while the Minister of Health Hala Zayed was monitoring the treatment as well as the surgeries for the injured at the hospital.
In press statements, Madbouly said that terrorism is a global phenomenon facing all countries, stressing that security forces in Egypt are taking the necessary measures to combat the phenomenon, including strong pre-emptive strikes directed against terrorist hideouts.
The prime minister added, “Such immoral incidents, as tonight’s, do not undermine the efforts of the state in protecting the tourists in the country.”
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. The attack took place six kilometres away from the Giza Pyramids. This the first attack against Egypt’s tourism since July 2017, when a knifed man killed two German women, and wounded two other tourists at the Zahabia hotel in Hurghada.
In January 2016, two assailants armed with a gun, a knife, and a suicide belt attacked tourists on the beach of a hotel in Hurghada, wounding two foreigners.
Tourism after the attack
Commenting on the attack’s relation to tourism, the former Chairperson of the Egyptian Tourism Federation, Elhamy El Zayat, said that the bomb was randomly planted on the street, affirming that Egypt’s tourism sector is not directly targeted by the attack due to the bomb’s location on a crowded Mariouteya street in Giza’s Haram district.
“The negative effects of the attack on the tourism sector will be shown within the coming days, by next Monday to be specific, as Saturdays and Sundays are off,” explained El Zayat to Daily News Egypt, adding that the effects of the accident on the ministry of tourism’ future plans are related to how many times will the news will be reported on international media.
Additionally, El Zayat recommended that the Egyptian government should completely develop the Mariouteya street, adding, “The street itself isn’t a touristic one, but it is a vital street for several important touristic areas. Development will not be over-priced as the street isn’t a very long one.”
The fiscal year (FY) 2017/18 witnessed Egypt’s tourism sector’s recovery, with revenues recording $9.8bn, according to the latest statistics of the Central Bank of Egypt, compared to $4.4bn in FY 2016/17, $3.7bn in FY 2015/16, and $7.3bn in FY 2014/15.
The tourism revenues gap in 2015/16 came a result of the Russian jet crash in Sinai, after minutes of its departure from Sharm El-Sheikh’s airport on 31 October 2015. The incident was followed by some countries’ travel bans to Egypt including Russia, the UK, two of the main countries contributing to the Egyptian tourism sector with the highest numbers of tourists visiting Egypt.
In July, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that Egypt’s recovery in its tourism sector is expected to continue, boosted by the stabilisation of the security conditions, as well as the resumption of direct flights with Russia after their suspension in 2015. Yet, despite a sharp increase last year, tourists’ arrivals remain below their pre-2011 levels.
The IMF warned Egyptian authorities of some risks including a deterioration of the security situation which would disrupt the emerging recovery in tourism and weaken Egypt’s reform measures.
Global reactions to the attack
“The EU stands hand-in-hand with Egypt in the fight against terrorism and sends condolences to the families of victims,” the EU delegation ambassador to Egypt Ivan Surkos stated.
The British ambassador to Egypt, Geoffrey Adams, said that the UK stands with Egypt in its fight against terrorism, noting, “Our hearts go to the families of the victims and all those affected in today’s incident in Giza, and to the Egyptian authorities as they respond.”
Furthermore, a statement from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs was published early on Saturday declaring, “We have received the news with sorrow that a bomb attack targeting a tourist bus, which took place in Cairo on 28 December, has left many dead and wounded,” adding that Turkey condemns Egypt’s heinous terrorist attack, and conveys condolences to the relatives of the deceased, and wishes a speedy recovery to those who were injured.
The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesperson, Bahram Kasemi, condemned the terrorist attack in Egypt as numbers of tourists were killed and injured, noting, “We reject the atrocious attack against the innocent foreigners who came from other countries for touristic purposes. We sympathise with Vietnam’s government, people, and the families of the survivors.”
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs released a statement to condemn the attack, noting, “We condemn the cowardly terrorist attack on the tourist bus near the Giza Pyramids in Egypt on 28 December, in which innocent lives were lost. We convey our heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased, and wish a speedy recovery for those who were injured.”
India affirmed it is standing by the government and people of Egypt in their fight against terrorism.