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Egypt Militants Admit Killing Tourists

April 21, 1996| From Associated Press

CAIRO — Egypt's largest Muslim militant group claimed responsibility Saturday for the attack that killed 18 Greek tourists near the Pyramids but said it had been meant for Israeli tourists to avenge Israel's bombing in southern Lebanon.

Gamaa al Islamiya, or the Islamic Group, also warned that "Jewish interests" in Egypt would be hit until Israel halts its assault in Lebanon. It pledged more attacks "in coming days" and repeated earlier warnings for tourists not to come to Egypt.

"This operation was in revenge . . . for the blood of the martyrs who have fallen on Lebanese land," said a statement sent to a Western news agency in Cairo.

Also Saturday, Interior Minister Hassan Alfi announced that he was demoting three top police officials and suspending 13 policemen. Sources said this was in response to a security breakdown in Thursday's attack.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said 16 police were assigned in the neighborhood of the Europa Hotel near the Pyramids but that only one policeman--who was unarmed--had shown up for duty before the shootings.

Four attackers opened fire on Greek tourists outside the hotel as they prepared to board a bus. Eighteen Greeks died, and 16 others and an Egyptian were wounded.

Police said Saturday that more than 250 suspected militants had been rounded up since the attack in an effort to find the gunmen and the attack's planners.

Police had said they were investigating whether the gunmen mistook the victims for Israelis, and the statement said the Islamic Group had monitored the Europa Hotel because it was believed to host Israeli tour groups.

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