Suicide bomber targets ancient Egyptian temple
A suicide bomber blew himself up Wednesday near the ancient temple of Karnak in Luxor, one of Egypt's most famous tourist attractions, Egyptian authorities said.
Soon after the attack, police exchanged fire with two suspected Islamic militants who had arrived at the site with the suicide bomber, killing both, security officials told the Associated Press. The country's Health Ministry said four people, including two policemen, were wounded.
Luxor Gov. Mohammed Sayed Badr told the news agency that the attack was "an attempt to break into the temple of Karnak" and the attackers "didn't make it in." He said no tourists were injured.
Luxor, on the east bank of the River Nile and about 420 miles south of the capital Cairo, is visited by millions of tourists every year. It is on the site of Thebes, the capital of the ancient Egyptian empire at its height.
The bombing comes a week after suspected Islamic militants opened fire near the Giza pyramids outside Cairo, killing two police officers.
Wednesday's attack was the first in Luxor since November 1997, when Islamic militants fired on a tourist bus that was visiting the ancient Hatshepsut Temple and killed 58 people.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday's attack. Extremists in the Sinai Peninsula, where violence has increased since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in 2013, have targeted tourist attractions before.
Last year, the militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis — which has changed its name to Sinai Province — pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Also known as ISIS and ISIL, that group has seized vast swaths of Syria and Iraq and destroyed ancient archaeological sites there.
Last month the Islamic State, which is against idolatry, seized the Syrian town of Palmyra and its ancient ruins, a UNESCO world heritage site. The militants later claimed not to have damaged the ruins. Instead, the group appears to have stolen many precious artifacts to sell on the black market to fund its operations.
A video previously emerged of the militants destroying the ancient city of Nimrud, near Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul. A separate video showed the extremists using sledgehammers to knock over artifacts at the Mosul museum and destroying ancient Nineveh gates.
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