Muslim militants claim bus bombing

Click to follow
CAIRO - A Muslim militant group claimed responsibility for a bomb planted yesterday outside the Egyptian Museum in central Cairo which damaged five tourist buses but caused no casualties.

Last night Egypt's most active militant Muslim group said it planted the bomb. El-Gamaat el- Islamiya (the Islamic Group) said in a statement faxed to an international news organisation that the attack was in revenge for a police assault on a mosque in Aswan a week ago in which nine people were shot dead and more than 40 injured.

The group warned there would be further violence in Cairo if security forces did not lift what it called their siege of the area of el- Badari, 190 miles south of the capital. The militants of are fighting to overthrow the government and turn Egypt into an Islamic state.

The explosion shattered windows in five buses parked outside the museum, which houses the world's finest collection of Pharaonic treasures, including the gold funeral mask of King Tutankhamen. The bomb had been planted in or under the luggage compartment of one of the buses. Police sources said it blew a hole 25cm (10in) deep in the asphalt of the parking lot.

The museum looks across central Cairo's biggest square, where a bomb killed three people and injured 20 in a crowded coffee shop at the end of last month.

The bomb exploded at about 1pm, shortly before the afternoon rush hour. 'We were inside the museum when we heard a bang. We came out and there was a lot of smoke,' said James O'Neill, a tourist from Dundee. 'Everyone was running towards the buses.'

Gamaat militants shot dead a British woman in an ambush on a bus near the southern town of Dayrut in October, and they injured five Germans when they shot at a bus in the town of Qena.

But a series of gun and bomb attacks on buses since then in Upper Egypt and Cairo has caused no casualties and Gamaat says its aim is to undermine the government by damaging the tourist industry, not to hurt tourists.

Security forces have cracked down with increasing force on the group, led by a blind preacher in New York, Sheikh Omar Abdel- Rahman. His followers have been implicated in last month's bombing of the World Trade Center.