Suicide Bombers Attempt Attack on Ancient Egyptian Karnak Temple in Luxor

Egyptian Tourist Destinations Struggle After Months Of Civil Unrest
Ed Giles/Getty Images

Law enforcement officials thwarted a suicide attack on Egypt’s ancient Karnak temple in Luxor. It is the second attack in Egypt in a week that targeted extremely busy tourist attractions.

The men appeared to target a bus full of tourists, but authorities stopped them before they reached the bus or temple. Officials announced that no tourists died, but five bystanders received injuries. The blast did not damage the temple. Authorities killed two attackers and wounded a third, who was also arrested. From the Associated Press:

[Luxor Governor Mohammed Sayed] Badr said three men carrying bags got out of a car in the temple’s parking lot, which immediately made the police suspicious. One of the three began running when police ordered them to stop, so the police fired at him and an explosive belt he was wearing blew up. The Tourism Ministry said in a statement that the man detonated his “explosive device,” killing himself instantly.

A second man had a gun and started shooting at the police before he was shot and killed. The third attacker was wounded in the shootout and arrested, Badr said.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but militant groups target “Egypt’s military and police with attacks since former military chief Abdel Fattah Al Sisi succeeded Mr. [Mohammed] Morsi, and tens of thousands of suspected supporters of the former president’s Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested and more than a thousand killed in violent protests.”

The tourism sector of Egypt appeared safe from attacks since 2011, but that all changed in the past week. On June 3, two gunmen slaughtered two police officers who guarded the Giza pyramids, which is the country’s most popular attraction. Tourism is a cash cow for Egypt, which puts the country’s well being in jeopardy if tourists are too scared to visit. Kamal Wahid, the director of the area around the pyramids, announced new security measures after the attack in Luxor. He also told local media he knows the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) attack and destroy historical sites as they spread their caliphate through Iraq and Syria.

The Temple of Karnak, which dates to 2000 BC, is Egypt’s second most popular attraction. The Egypt kingdom established its capital in Thebes, where people decorated the streets with gorgeous temples. The Karnak temple was the most beautiful and “dedicated to the Pharoah Amun.” The complex is “almost a mile by two miles in area” with “over 25 temples and chapels.” Tourists even get to see boats the people used to take statues away when the Nile flooded.