Blast hits tourist bus near Egypt’s Giza pyramids; 17 injured

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An injured woman is seen at the site of a blast near a new museum being built close to the Giza pyramids in Cairo, Egypt on Sunday. (Reuters)
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An exploision has targeted a tourist bus near the Great Pyramids according to local security sources, who say at least 12 foreign tourists were injured. (Twitter: @Alroeya)
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ds according to local security sources, who say at least 12 foreign tourists were injured. (Twitter: @Alroeya)
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An exploision has targeted a tourist bus near the Great Pyramids according to local security sources, who say at least 12 foreign tourists were injured. (Screenshot/Twitter)
Updated 20 May 2019
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Blast hits tourist bus near Egypt’s Giza pyramids; 17 injured

  • There were no reports of deaths
  • One security source said they included South African nationals

CAIRO: An explosion targeting a tourist bus injured at least 17 people near a new museum being built close to the Giza Pyramids in Egypt on Sunday, two security sources said.

The bus was carrying 25 South African tourists, while a private car behind it was carrying four people. Most of the wounded included South African nationals.

A source at Al-Haram Government Hospital said there were no deaths and that people were in a stable condition.
Security and judicial sources said the explosion was caused by a bomb that had been placed near the wall of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

They said a rudimentary device containing nails and pieces of metal had been detonated remotely on the perimeter of the museum, not far from the site of a roadside blast that hit another tourist bus in December.

A witness, Mohamed El-Mandouh, told Reuters he heard a "very loud explosion" while sitting in traffic near the site of the blast.

Pictures posted on social media showed a bus with some of its windows blown out or shattered, and debris in the road next to a low wall with a hole in it.

The Cairo-Alexandria road is one of the busiest routes used by tour buses because it leads to the famous pyramid site.

The attack follows clear signs of recovery in the tourism sector, with a growth of 34 percent in the first quarter of 2019 in hotel occupancy and expectations for growth of more than 20 percent this year.

“It’s sad that Egypt is targeted this way,” Samir Mohamed, an engineer living in Cairo, told Arab News. 
“Tourists hear about our great achievements for the Rod El-Farag bridge, the Grand Egyptian museum and our new capital but then terrorism spoils Egypt’s image.”

Last December three Vietnamese tourists and a local tour guide died after a roadside bomb hit their bus.

Pictures posted on social media showed a bus with some of its windows blown out or shattered, and debris in the road next to a low wall with a hole in it.

One witness told Reuters he heard a “very loud explosion” while sitting in traffic.

South Africa’s Foreign Ministry said staff from its embassy in Egypt were visiting hospitals to check on the reported injuries.

The museum is due to open next year as the new home for some of the country’s top antiquities on a site adjoining the world-famous Giza pyramids. It is part of an effort to boost tourism, a key source of foreign revenue for Egypt.

The sector has been recovering after tourist numbers dropped in the wake of a 2011 uprising and the 2015 bombing of a Russian passenger jet.

There was no damage to the museum from the blast, which happened 50 meters from its outer fence and more than 400 meters from the museum building, the Antiquities Ministry said in a statement.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Egyptian security forces are waging a counter insurgency campaign against militants, some with links to Daesh, that is focussed in the north of the Sinai Peninsula.

Attacks outside Sinai have become relatively rare, though there have been several security incidents in recent months in Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo.

In December, three Vietnamese tourists and an Egyptian guide were killed and at least 10 others injured when a roadside bomb hit their tour bus less than 4 km from the Giza pyramids.

(With Agencies)


Iraqi cleric Al-Sadr threatens to withdraw support for Abdul Mahdi’s government

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. (AFP)
Updated 30 min 11 sec ago
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Iraqi cleric Al-Sadr threatens to withdraw support for Abdul Mahdi’s government

  • “No one can predict what Al-Sadr thinks and even his MPs do not know what the man thinks, so it is likely that this threat is part of the ongoing negotiations”

BAGHDAD: Moqtada Al-Sadr, the powerful Iraqi Shiite cleric, on Monday threatened to withdraw his support for the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi if the prime minister fails to finalize the formation of his Cabinet within 10 days.
Al-Sadr is one of the most influential clerics in the country, with millions of followers, a large armed faction and a parliamentary bloc. He is the official sponsor of the Reform Alliance, the second-largest parliamentary coalition, which is overseeing the formation of the government following the national parliamentary elections in May last year. The removal of his support for Abdul Mahdi’s government might take the form of an announcement that he no longer has confidence in the Parliament, or the organization of mass demonstrations.
Abdul Mahdi, who became prime minister in October, formed his government with the support of Reform and the pro-Iranian Construction coalition. The latter is led by Hadi Al-Amiri, the commander of Badr Organization, one of the most powerful Shiite armed factions. However, disputes between the two alliances over some of the candidates erupted at the last minute, as a result of which four ministries remain vacant: Interior, defense, education and justice.

Monday’s statement, which was signed by Al-Sadr and described as his “last call,” was addressed to his Saeiroon parliamentary bloc, the leaders of all political blocs, and Abdul Mahdi. It was issued in response to criticism on social on Monday because of the vote by members of the parliamentary blocs, including Al-Sadr’s MPs, the day before to grant all the privileges enjoyed by the former MPs to the deputies who ruled out by the Federal Supreme Court due to the error of counting their votes.
“All the political blocs must authorize the prime minister to complete his ministerial Cabinet within 10 days…and he (Abdul Mahdi) must choose (the ministers) according to the standards of integrity, efficiency and specialization, or I will not support him,” Al-Sadr’s statement read.

His position is the latest in a series of events that have put pressure on Abdul Mahdi in recent weeks. These include efforts by some political blocs, including Saeiroon, to dismiss a number of ministers under the pretext of failure to improve services and inability to combat the financial and administrative corruption that is rampant in their departments.
While most political leaders believe that reaching a political agreement on candidates to fill the vacant ministries within 10 days “will be very difficult” and predict “this may be the end of the government of Abdul Mahdi,” some believe that Al-Sadr’s goal is to pile more pressure on Abdul Mahdi as a way to obtain certain concessions.

“Saeiroon is still negotiating with the prime minister and the other political partners to obtain some key government posts that its rivals are looking to get, and Abdul Mahdi refused to give them to the Saeiroon candidates, so this could be a part of this,” said a prominent Shiite negotiator who asked not to be named. “No one can predict what Al-Sadr thinks and even his MPs do not know what the man thinks, so it is likely that this threat is part of the ongoing negotiations."