Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2018 20:35:18 +0100
By Menna Zaki

Giza, Egypt, Dec 29, 2018 (AFP) - Crowds of tourists stared in awe at the towering pyramids of Giza near Cairo Saturday undaunted by a nearby bomb attack a day earlier that killed holidaymakers from Vietnam.    A roadside bombing claimed the lives of three tourists and their Egyptian guide Friday when it ripped through the bus they were on as it travelled near the world-famous attraction.

The attack comes as Egypt's vital tourism sector has begun to recover after years of instability and jihadist violence that scared visitors away.    "I think terrorism can strike anywhere in the world," Somand Yang from South Korea told AFP.    "You have to be careful but it is also like luck."   Security forces guarded the entrance to the sprawling site and Yang, 32, said she had no qualms about visiting.   "Lightning never strikes twice in the same place. So I figured it will be even safer today," she said.

- 'Completely devastated' -
Excited holidaymakers rode camels and queued to enter a tomb as they snapped pictures of the Great Pyramid, the only surviving structure of the seven wonders of the ancient world.   Hawkers followed the tourists, doggedly trying to sell trinkets and souvenirs.   Despite the steady flow of visitors, Egyptians working at the site said they were shaken by the attack -- and concerned that it could hit their livelihoods.    "I knew the guide who died yesterday," said Dalia Sadaka, as she accompanied a group of sightseers.    "I completely broke down yesterday, but I had to get to work in the morning," she said, pointing to her visibly swollen eyes.

- 'Truly regrettable' -
Earlier hit hard by a string of bloody attacks and unrest, visitor numbers to Egypt have more recently staged a partial recovery.    In October 2015, a bomb claimed by a local affiliate of the Islamic State jihadist group killed all 224 people on board a passenger jet carrying Russian tourists over the Sinai peninsula.     That incident dealt a severe blow to Egypt's tourism industry, which was still reeling from the turmoil set off by the 2011 uprising that forced veteran leader Hosni Mubarak from power.

The official statistics agency says arrivals reached 8.2 million in 2017, up from 5.3 million the year before.   But that figure was still far short of the record influx in 2010 when over 14 million came.    "I fear yesterday's incident may have an impact on our source of income," said an elderly man who offers camel rides, declining to give his name.    "It is very regretable," he said. "We were finally happy that tourism started picking up a bit."
Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2018 16:07:04 +0100

Cairo, Dec 13, 2018 (AFP) - Egyptian authorities Thursday arrested a camel driver and a woman accused of having helped two Danes scale the Great Pyramid of Giza to take a video and naked photograph, sparking outrage in the country.   The interior ministry said the woman had put the pair into contact with the camel driver who took them to the site illegally at night on November 29 for 4,000 Egyptian pounds ($225, 200 euros).   The two had acknowledged their role in the incident and would be put on trial.

In a video called "Climbing the Great Pyramid of Giza", Danish photographer Andreas Hvid appears to scale the 4,500-year-old tomb on the outskirts of Cairo with a woman who is later seen removing her top.   Hvid says the video was shot in late November and posted on YouTube on December 8, setting in motion an investigation by Egypt's public prosecutor.   A photograph also released by Hvid appears to show the pair completely naked on top of each other while looking in the direction of a nearby pyramid.

The nearly three-minute video has so far notched up 4.5 million views on YouTube, while stirring a public outcry in Egypt.   "A 7,000-year-old civilisation has turned into a bed sheet," a Twitter user in Egypt lamented.   Hvid, 23, has explained back home to the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet that he had "dreamed for many years of climbing the Great Pyramid" as well as of taking a naked photograph.   The young Dane, who runs his own YouTube channel, said the woman in the video was not his girlfriend. "It was just a pose. We did not have sexual relations," he said.

The Great Pyramid is the largest in Giza, standing 146 metres (480 feet) tall, and the only surviving structure of the seven wonders of the ancient world.   Climbing pyramids is forbidden in Egypt.   In 2016, a German tourist was barred from entering the country for life after he posted online footage of climbing one of the ancient structures.
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2018 10:22:25 +0200

London, Aug 24, 2018 (AFP) - British tour operator Thomas Cook said it is removing all its customers from a hotel in Egypt after a UK couple staying there died in unexplained circumstances and other guests fell ill.   The company said late Thursday it was unclear what caused the deaths of the Britons, reportedly in their 60s, who had been staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.

Thomas Cook added in a statement that all of its other customers staying at the Steigenberger, reported to be 301 by the BBC, had the choice of relocating to another hotel in Hurghada or returning home.   It said it was "deeply saddened" by the deaths of the two guests.   "The circumstances of their deaths are still unclear," Thomas Cook said.   "We have also received further reports of a raised level of illness among guests. Safety is always our first priority, so as a precautionary measure we have taken a decision to remove all our customers from this hotel."   Red Sea governor Ahmad Abdallah told AFP that the couple, who were on holiday with their daughter, had died on Tuesday.

The BBC identified them as John Cooper, 69, and his wife Susan, 63, a Thomas Cook employee. The couple were from the town of Burnley, northwest England.   Abdallah said the man died in hospital after suffering exhaustion, followed by his wife who collapsed at the hotel on hearing the news.     The governor ruled out "criminal motive".

Thomas Cook said customers due to travel in the coming weeks to the hotel -- which the tour operator gave a 96-percent rating in an audit last month -- would be offered alternative holidays.   Egypt's key tourism industry has been recovering from a devastating blow in 2015 when jihadists bombed a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 on board.
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2018 13:04:55 +0200

Cairo, Aug 20, 2018 (AFP) - An Egyptian army captain has been killed by an improvised explosive device blast in North Sinai during a campaign to eliminate jihadists, medics said on Monday.   The officer died Sunday evening after an explosion hit his vehicle west of the coastal city of El-Arish, a local medical source said.   The Egyptian army has since February been conducting a major operation focused on the Sinai Peninsula to wipe out jihadists from the Islamic State group.

The military says that over 250 suspected jihadists and at least 35 soldiers have been killed in its "Sinai 2018" operation.   Jihadists launched an insurgency in Sinai after the 2013 military overthrow of Egypt's Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was forced out by the military in the face of mass protests against his rule.
Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2018 15:29:14 +0200

Cairo, Aug 5, 2018 (AFP) - A Czech tourist was killed by a shark while swimming in the Red Sea off the coast of Egypt, authorities said Sunday.   The man died 20 kilometres north of Marsa Alam city as "a result of an attack by a shark", city council chairman General Atef Wagdy told AFP.   The health ministry is coordinating handing over the body to the Czech embassy, Wagdy said.

Local media reported on Friday that human remains were found on a beach in Marsa Alam.   The environment ministry has set up a committee to investigate the death and will issue a report, Wagdy added.   Marsa Alam attracts divers who explore coral and other marine life, including fish and sharks.   "There is no problem in diving" around Marsa Alam, but people who swim on the surface in deep waters beyond the coral can be vulnerable to attack, Wagdy said.

In 2015, a shark killed a German tourist off Egypt's Red Sea coast, marking the first death in five years.   There were six recorded shark attacks in Egyptian waters in 2010, including a spate of five in five days unusually close to the shore that killed another German and injured four other foreign tourists in December that year.   The 2010 attacks forced the government to close off a stretch of beach in the Sharm el-Sheikh resort for a week.

In 2017, Egypt received 8.3 million visitors, a surge of 54 percent from 5.4 million in 2016.    The country's tourism industry had been dealt a devastating blow in 2015 when jihadists bombed a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers from Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 on board.   Before that, the industry had begun to recover from the 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.   Travel agencies, hotel managers and diving centres told AFP earlier this year that reservations have risen, especially in Red Sea destinations including Marsa Alam and Hurghada.
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