World Bulletin/News Desk
An explosion on a tourist bus in Egypt's Sinai peninsula killed three Koreans and the Egyptian driver on Sunday, the Interior Ministry said, an apparent turning point in an insurgency that has gained pace since an army takeover in July.
The ministry said the bus was travelling from St. Catherine's Monastery, a popular tourist destination in the south Sinai, to nearby Israel when it was attacked.
It did not state the cause of the blast. But two security sources said an explosive device planted either inside or near the bus was used.
Militants based in the largely lawless Sinai have stepped up attacks on security forces since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted elected President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July.
If militants were behind Sunday's attack, that would mark a shift in strategy to targeting tourists and economic targets and not just Egyptian police and soldiers.
State television showed a photograph of the bus. Its windows were blown out and the roof had been partially torn off. Plumes of black smoke billowed from the site of the explosion on a palm tree-lined boulevard.
Israel put its troops on the border with Egypt on high alert on Sunday and offered help following a blast that hit a tourist bus in the Sinai Peninsula resort of Taba, Israeli media reported.
Israeli Channel 2 said Tel Aviv had offered to help Cairo, adding that Israeli ambulances had hurried to the border crossing with neighboring Egypt, waiting for permission to enter into Egyptian territories to participate in aiding the explosion victims.
Israeli police said earlier that Israel is ready to offer medical treatment for the victims of the blast at its hospitals. It noted that there were no Israeli victims in the explosion.
The Israeli authorities also decided to suspend traffic into Taba following the blast, Israel radio reported. It added that the blast, which rocked the border area, took place 250 meters away from the border line with Egypt.
Egypt has been rocked by political turmoil and violence since the downfall of Mursi, Egypt's first democratically-elected president, in July, after mass protests against him.
Since he was deposed, militants based in the largely desolate Sinai near Israel have stepped up attacks on security forces, killing hundreds.
Last Mod: 16 Şubat 2014, 18:04