Egypt attacks: 2 German female tourists, 5 policemen killed

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Workers and security detain the man who stabbed two German tourists to death and wounded four others during an attack of the Zahabia hotel resort in Hurghada, south of the capital Cairo, Egypt, on July 14, 2017. (REUTERS/Mohamed Aly)
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Medics rush an injured tourist at the Zahabia hotel resort, after an Egyptian man stabbed two German tourists to death and wounded four others in Hurghada, south of the capital Cairo, Egypt, on July 14, 2017. (REUTERS/Mohamed Aly)
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Tourists walk on an empty beach at the coast of the Red Sea of Hurghada. (Reuters)
Updated 15 July 2017
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Egypt attacks: 2 German female tourists, 5 policemen killed

CAIRO: Two German female tourists were stabbed to death while four other foreigners were wounded in an attack Friday at a hotel in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada, an Egyptian security official said.
The assault came just hours after a shooting near some of Egypt’s most famous pyramids outside of Cairo killed five policemen.
The motive behind the stabbing was unclear and the Interior Ministry said the attacker at the Red Sea resort was arrested immediately.
A security official said the attacker, a man in his 20s dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans, wielded a knife and intentionally sought to attack foreigners.
“Stay away, I don’t want Egyptians,” the assailant had said in Arabic during the attack, according to the official.
Without taking any blame for what appears to be a major security breach, the Interior Ministry said the attacker had sneaked into the hotel by swimming from a nearby beach.
In the killings of the five policemen outside of Cairo, no group claimed responsibility for the attack but it bore the hallmarks of a smaller Islamic militant group known as Hasm that has been behind similar shootings in recent months.
Friday’s attacks are likely to further impact Egypt’s deeply struggling tourism industry — a pillar of the country’s economy that employs millions of people. The industry has suffered from political instability and a fragile security situation since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.
The attacker in Hurghada, one of Egypt’s most popular beach resorts and diving centers, stabbed the tourists in the face, neck and feet, according to the security official.
Two German tourists died of their wounds while four tourists were wounded, including citizens of Ukraine and the Czech Republic, the official told The Associated Press.
Earlier, another official said that Ukrainians were killed and that the wounded included Serbian and Polish tourists. But in Belgrade, Serbia’s foreign ministry said no Serbian citizens were among the wounded. Later, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tweeted that no Ukrainian citizens were among the victims in the Hurghada attack.
In Germany, the foreign ministry said that it “cannot rule out” that German citizens were among the victims, but stressed that it doesn’t yet have that information. The German Embassy in Cairo is in close contact with Egyptian authorities to clear that up, it added.
An emergency doctor at the Al-Salam hospital in Hurghada declined to answer questions, only confirming that the wounded tourists were brought there. Both the security official and the doctor spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media.
The contradictory information reflected the confusion in the immediate aftermath of the attack involving foreigners in one of Egypt’s most popular resorts.
In the attack on the policemen, gunmen riding on a motorcycle opened fire on a security vehicle patrolling a Giza village, next to some of Egypt’s oldest pyramids outside of the capital, Cairo, killing the five policemen, the Interior Ministry and officials said.
The deadly shooting — on the Muslim weekend in Egypt, when traffic is slower — heightened fears of what has become near-weekly attacks by suspected Islamic militants after a blitz attack left 23 troops dead in northern Sinai a week ago.
Egypt has been under a months-long state of emergency following a series of deadly church bombings in the spring that killed scores of Christians.
The village of Abusir in Badrashin, where the policemen were killed, is part of Greater Cairo. The policemen were part of the force tasked to guard the district of Saqqara, one of Egypt’s most popular tourist sites and host to a collection of temples, tombs and funerary complexes.
According to the ministry, the militants sprayed the policemen’s vehicle with machine-gun fire and fled the scene after one policeman returned gunfire.
However, a video widely circulated on social media appears to show the attackers faced no resistance. It shows them seizing the policemen’s weapons and radios and setting fire to the bodies after the shooting.
Authorities cordoned off the area and ambulances rushed to the site, located near the famous Step Pyramid of King Djoser. It is the oldest of Egypt’s more than 90 pyramids and the forerunner of the more familiar straight-sided pyramids in Giza on the outskirts of Cairo.
Friday’s attacks threaten a new blow to the country’s struggling tourism industry and economy. The year before the 2011 uprising, nearly 15 million tourists visited Egypt. Last year, the figure was at 5.3 million, according to official reports. In 2015, a Daesh (Islamic State) affiliate in Egypt downed a Russian plane over Sinai, killing all 224 passengers aboard.
Egypt has been rocked by deadly suicide bombings, drive-by shootings and other attacks since the 2013 military ouster of an elected Islamist president. The violence has been concentrated in the northern Sinai Peninsula, but attacks have spread to the mainland, including in the capital, where suicide bombers have struck churches and security headquarters.
The last time tourists were attacked in Hurghada was in January 2016, when two Austrians and a Swede were stabbed by two suspected militants, also at a hotel. They were only lightly wounded. Security forces shot both attackers, killing one and wounding the other before arresting him.
The Brotherhood won a series of elections in Egypt following the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Muhammad Mursi, a senior Brotherhood leader, became Egypt’s first freely elected president the following year.
Mursi’s brief rule proved divisive, however, and the military overthrew him in 2013 after mass protests against his rule. Authorities outlawed the Brotherhood a few months later, declaring it a terrorist group. An ensuing security crackdown on the group’s ranks has battered its leaders, who are either in prison or in exile, and its youth group became potential recruits for militant groups.
The Hasm, or “Decisiveness,” is a militant group that authorities have linked to the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. It has claimed responsibility for drive-by shootings and attacks that targeted police, military, judges and pro-government figures in the past.
Last week, Islamic militants killed 23 army personnel in a remote checkpoint in northeastern Sinai Peninsula. The Daesh in Egypt claimed responsibility for that attack — the deadliest assault on the military in the turbulent region in two years.
Coptic Christians have been a prime target of IS in Egypt, with more than 100 of them killed in the past few months alone. Egypt’s Christians account for about 10 percent of the country’s 93 million people.
The attacks have prompted the Coptic churches to suspend religious festivals and group tour trips to monasteries for the remainder of the summer.
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Associated Press writers Maamoun Youssef in Cairo, Jovana Gec in Belgrade, Serbia, and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.


Iraq’s Mosul logs civil records lost to years of Daesh rule

Iraqis wait at the Nineveh governorate building in Iraq's second city of Mosul to resolve issues related to their identity documents. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Iraq’s Mosul logs civil records lost to years of Daesh rule

  • During the Daesh’s reign, thousands of Iraqis who lived in areas controlled by Daesh virtually disappeared from state registers
  • When Iraqi forces retook the city and courts reopened, he and his wife rushed to sign a new marriage contract

MOSUL: When Shahed was born in 2015 her father tried to notify Iraq’s civil registry. The problem was, their city of Mosul was held by Daesh group and the office had been shut.

Three years later, 39-year-old Ahmed Aziz has yet to officially register his daughter’s birth, the certificate for which bears the seal of the so-called caliphate.
Under the late summer sun, the taxi driver braves a long queue outside Mosul’s reopened civil registry, hoping that by the end of the day Shahed’s name will finally appear in state records.
The little girl was born just a year after Daesh swept across the country, seizing swathes of territory including Iraq’s second city Mosul.
“The civil registry was closed,” said Aziz, holding the IS-stamped document issued by a hospital in Mosul.
But since Iraqi forces ultimately regained control of the city in July 2017 after a bloody months-long campaign, residents have flooded the city’s reopened offices.
Thousands of children like Shahed had been born under Daesh rule, and the extremists had systematically blown up civil offices and archives.
“I saw this massive rush to get to the public offices, so I preferred to wait a bit before going there too,” said Aziz.
As a result, his daughter does not yet officially exist.
During the Daesh’s reign, thousands of Iraqis who lived in areas controlled by Daesh virtually disappeared from state registers.
Some lost their identity documents as neighborhoods turned into battle zones, others as they fled the violence.
Many of those who remained were given documents from Daesh’s proto-state — ministries and courts created by the jihadists to register births, marriages, deaths and trade agreements alike.
None of that paperwork has been recognized by Iraqi authorities.
When Zein Mohammed got married in 2014, he and his soon-to-be wife had to present themselves at an IS court to seal the deal.
What should have been the best day of the now 29-year-old civil servant’s life was instead a test.
“I appeared in front of the judge with my fiancee — she was covered head-to-toe in black,” he told AFP.
Under Daesh rule, Mosul’s residents were forced to bow to the jihadists ultra-conservative demands.
Women were compelled to fully cover themselves in black veils and long robes, and civil cases were heard by courts that dealt out death sentences and corporal punishment for “sins..”
“The judge issued us a marriage certificate bearing the IS seal,” said Mohammed.
When Iraqi forces retook the city and courts reopened, he and his wife rushed to sign a new marriage contract.
Now, packed in among the crowd outside Mosul’s civil registry, Mohammed is hoping to finally regularize their marital status.
Iraqi civil servants are working around the clock to meet the massive demand, compiling files, verifying identities and registering official documents and certificates.
It is a titanic job, often slowed due to additional safeguards imposed by Iraqi security services in the former IS stronghold.
To weed out fake IDs and spot jihadists seeking to slip through the cracks, “intelligence services check each document,” head of Mosul’s registry office General Hussein Mohammed Ali told AFP.
But the added security measures have not hampered progress.
“More than a million certified documents and more than 2,000 passports have already been issued,” he said.
Mustafa Thamer, a 23-year-old student, is applying for his first passport even though he has no plans to travel soon.
“We say we must have a passport so that we can leave whenever we want,” he told AFP.
“We lived under IS occupation and we no longer trust the future of the city,” he said.
“Anything can happen in Mosul.”