Security visibly tightened at main tourist sites

 

As Egypt, shaken by the Luxor temple killing of 58 tourists, deployed more forces at tourist sites yesterday, President Hosni Mubarak said no country could guarantee total security.

"This could happen anywhere in the world," he said at Cairo airport when he had seen off Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands after her three-day visit to Egypt.

"We have surmounted this incident," Mr Mubarak said. "There is no country in the world that can ensure 100 per cent security, not in Europe nor in the US."

Extra police and troops in trucks mounted with machineguns appeared at the Hatshepsut temple yesterday. The only two policemen on duty there on Monday were shot and killed at the start of the carnage.

In Cairo, security forces guarded the Egyptian Museum, where two Muslim zealots killed nine German tourists in a bus attack on September 18th.

Mr Mubarak on Tuesday sacked his Interior Minister after publicly berating him for lapses which enabled the Muslim militants to carry out their bloodiest attack since their armed campaign began in 1992. Security sources said the new Interior Minister, Mr Habib el-Adli, had replaced the top three officials at the ministry and several security officials in Luxor on his first full day in office.

The German Foreign Minister, Mr Klaus Kinkel, said in an interview published yesterday that it was almost impossible to stop "fanatic terrorists" but Egypt still had to do a better job.

The Gama'a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group), Eqypt's largest militant organisation, said it had planned to take tourists hostage to win freedom for its blind leader, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman. He was convicted in 1995 in the US for conspiring to blow up the United Nations building and other New York landmarks.

The fiery cleric's second wife, Faten, who lives in Fayoum, south of Cairo, refused to comment on the Luxor attack. "What attack?" she asked. "Who says these people did it for my husband? Maybe they are the enemy, Israel."

The main armed extremist Muslim groups outside Egypt have condemned the massacre. "We totally condemn this attack against innocent civilians in Egypt," Mr Said Abu Musameh, a leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), said on Tuesday.

Another Palestinian group, the smaller Islamic Jihad, has also condemned Monday's attack. However, it criticised the Egyptian government for its repressive policy towards Islamic fundamentalism. "The attack aims at discrediting Islam," said the Sunni Muslim fundamentalist, Mr Jamaa Islamiya, of Lebanon. "No one can believe that real Muslims committed this crime."