Human rights group demands investigation into suicide attack on South Korean pilgrims

Blast killed Korean Christians on pilgrimage

Published 26 February 2014  |  
Muslim Brotherhood supporters accuse Egypt's Christian community of helping to remove Mohamed Morsi from power

A leading human rights organisation has called on the Egyptian government to launch a full investigation into the suicide bombing that killed Korean Christians on pilgrimage on 16 February.

Human Rights Watch has demanded that those responsible are identified and prosecuted for their crimes, which resulted in the death of three tourists and their Egyptian driver, as well as the man who detonated the bomb after forcing his way onto a packed bus carrying tourists from St Catherine's Monastery in Egypt to Israel.

Over 13 others were injured in the attack, which took place as the vehicle stopped by the Egypt/Israel border in Taba to allow its passengers to cross over on foot.

Islamist militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which has links to al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attack – the first against tourists in the region of Sinai in eight years.

The group released a statement saying: "Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has successfully sacrificed one of its heroes to detonate the bus headed toward the Zionists, and this comes as part of our economic war against this regime of traitors...in order to paralyse their hands from [hurting] Muslims."

Reports suggest that a member of the extremist group also warned tourists to leave Egypt before 20 February, or risk further violence.

It is not the first time Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis have claimed responsibility for a terror attack of this nature.  On Christmas Eve last December a car bomb was detonated in Mansoura, killing 16 people. The group are also reported to be behind the attempted assassination of Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim last September.

The Sinai Peninsula has been beset with violence by armed groups for years, and attacks have escalated since Islamist president Morsi was ousted in a coup last July.

The deputy Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, Joe Stork, has condemned this latest attack, saying: "Such wanton killings are never justified, no matter what the political or other purpose.

"Attacks such as this one on a bus filled with tourists in Sinai are an abhorrent violation of the right to life."

The human rights organisation is thus calling for those responsible to be brought to justice.

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