Egypt: Islamist terror group gives tourists two days to leave

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claim responsibilty for the attack

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has threatened to attack tourists if they don't leave Egypt by Thursday

LAST UPDATED AT 09:55 ON Wed 19 Feb 2014

THE Egyptian government has said it is taking seriously threats made by Islamist terrorists to kill tourists. The militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis issued an ultimatum telling tourists to leave the country by Thursday or face attacks.

The threat was made on a private Twitter account affiliated with the terrorist group, Reuters reports. A spokeswoman at the Egyptian embassy in London said that while authorities could not determine the authenticity of the threat, "extra precautions have been taken in recent days to protect tourists in the resort area of Sharm El Sheikh".

The Islamist group had previously claimed responsibility for an attack last Sunday that killed three South Koreans and one Egyptian in a bus explosion in the Sinai peninsula near the border with Israel.

Attacks in the area have increased since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the BBC reports.

Militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers in the region since Mohammed Morsi was deposed last year, but "the bombing on Sunday of a tourist bus marks a strategic shift to soft targets that could devastate an economy already reeling from political turmoil", warns Reuters.

The prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, said that the terrorist group was a "threat to tourists" and that their actions could serve to undermine Egypt's political road map, in the wake of the military coup last summer.

What is Ansar Beit al-Maqdis?

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is an al-Qaeda inspired militant organisation. Known initially for its attacks on Israeli targets, increasingly it has shifted its attention to violence against the Egyptian army after the fall of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

The organisation has been involved in suicide bombings, drive-by shootings and assassinations.

Some believe that Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has links to both the Muslim Brotherhood, the political organisation that governed Egypt until last year's coup, and Hamas, the group that governs Gaza.

Brotherhood Without Violence, a breakaway movement from the Muslim Brotherhood, claims Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is the Brotherhood's "military wing," the BBC reports. · 

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