Sinai militants claim Egypt tourist bus blast

Islamist militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis said the attack is part of a “war” against Egypt’s economy

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The Islamist militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis on Tuesday claimed responsibility for bombing a tourist bus in Egypt’s Sinai in an attack that killed three Korean tourists and an Egyptian driver on Sunday.

The militant group has claimed responsibility for several such bombings.

The group threatened more strikes against economic targets in Egypt, according to a statement released Tuesday.

“Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has successfully sacrificed one of its heroes to detonate the bus headed toward the Zionists, and this comes as part of our economic war against this regime of traitors,” the group said.

“With God’s will we will be watching this treacherous gang of infiltrators and we will target their economic interests in all places in order to paralyze their hands from [hurting] Muslims,” the statement said, in refernece to the interim Egyptian government and its crackdown on Islamists.

Sunday’s blast ripped through a bus carrying 31 South Korean passengers travelling to Israel from St. Catherine’s Monastery.

The incident is considered the first assault against tourists in Egypt since the ouster of Islamist President Mohammad Mursi.

Since then, Islamist militancy has risen sharply in Egypt, including in the largely lawless region adjoining Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The attack marks a shift in strategy among Sinai’s militants to targeting “softer” tourist and economic targets. Egypt’s vital tourism industry has already been hit hard by three years of political turmoil and street protests.

Islamist militants launch near-daily attacks on security forces in northern Sinai, while the south, with its many Red Sea resorts, had been seen as a relatively safe tourist destination.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for several bombings, including an attempt to kill the interior minister in Cairo last year. The organization also said it was behind a missile attack on a military helicopter last month that killed five soldiers.

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