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Suicide Bomber Strikes at Egypt's Ancient Karnak Temple

There is no immediate word on casualties resulting from the attack, which targeted a tourist destination visited by millions of foreign and Egyptian people every year.
June 10, 2015, 10:54am
Photo by Mohammed Omar/EPA

A suicide bomber attacked an ancient temple in the Egyptian city of Luxor on Wednesday, a top tourist destination.

Officials said police also foiled two other attempted suicide attacks at the sprawling Karnak temple, which lies on the east bank of the Nile and is visited by millions of foreign and Egyptian tourists each year.

There was no immediate news on casualties. Egyptian media reported that two attackers had been killed, said the BBC. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

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The attack was the first to target world-famous attractions in Luxor since November 1997, when Islamic militants opened fire on tourists at the city's 3,400-year-old Hatshepsut Temple on the west bank of the Nile, killing 58.

Tourism is the lifeblood of Luxor, home to some of Egypt's most famous ancient temples and pharaonic tombs, including that of King Tutankhamun. The city has been hit hard by a downturn in foreign visitors during the years of unrest since Egypt's 2011 uprising.

Related: In Photos: Visiting Egypt's Deserted Tourist Traps

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday's attack, but it bore the hallmarks of Islamic militants who have been battling security forces in the strategic Sinai Peninsula for years. Extremists in Sinai have targeted tourism sites to try to deny the government a key source of revenue.

Last year, the Sinai-based insurgent group Ansar Beit al Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, which has destroyed famed archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq, claiming they promote idolatry.

The campaign of violence in Sinai accelerated and spread to other parts of Egypt following the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The attack on the temple comes as tourism was beginning to show signs of recovery after a four-year slump following the uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Related: Egypt Sentences Former President Mohammed Morsi and More Than 100 Others to Death

The Associated Press contributed to this report.