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German tourist shot on Egyptian cruise

ASSIUT (Reuter) - Gunmen badly wounded a German woman in southern Egypt yesterday when they shot at a Nile cruiser carrying 33 German tourists.

The Muslim militant organisation, el-Gamaat el-Islamiya (Islamic Group) claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying it was part of a series of attacks to avenge the killing of Palestinians in a Hebron mosque last Friday. 'These attacks will intensify until the Jews and their agents realise that Islam has a victorious sword and is guided by the Koran,' the group said in a statement.

The German tourist, a 54-year-old widow, had a large splinter of glass in her neck from a window shattered by bullets, police said. A doctor at Assiut University Hospital, where she was being treated, said she was in a stable condition after an operation to remove a 'foreign body'. He said she had a blood transfusion and was expected to be transferred to Cairo today.

The attack took place at about 9.45am as the Nile cruiser Regency was sailing north between the towns of Tima and Abu Tig, about 355km (220 miles) south of Cairo. Police on the cruiser fired back at the gunmen on the east bank; at least 20 bullets hit the cruiser, they said.

The Gamaat has advised tourists and foreign investors to leave Egypt on several occasions, but its statements have often implied that they were in danger only as bystanders. A previously unknown group calling itself the Islamic Brigades to Avenge Palestinian Martyrs has gone a step further, saying Egyptian militants would target Americans and Israelis in retaliation for those massacred in Hebron last week.

After Friday prayers in Cairo yesterday, tens of thousands of people tried to march from the ancient mosque of al-Azhar towards the city centre, shouting anti-Zionist slogans and throwing stones at the police.