The Ministry of Health announced two militants died and five Egyptians were injured in a suicide attack that took place Wednesday morning in the area of the Al-Karnak temple in Luxor.
One of the militants died as a result of the detonation of an explosive device in his possession, an interior ministry statement read, without mentioning details on the precise cause of death of the second fatality.
A third militant was injured during the exchange of fire between security forces and the militants. The injuries include Egyptian civilians and security personnel.
Conflicting reports were circulated over the number of casualties, and whether they included tourists. The Ministries of Interior and Antiquities both denied tourists were injured.
The Ministry of Tourism has increased its security measures at tourist sites following the suicide bomb attack that targeted Luxor Wednesday morning, Minister of Tourism Khaled Rami said on Wednesday.
“We continue to take every possible measure to ensure that no harm comes to anyone visiting Egypt,” said Rami.
The official added that, over the past four years, Luxor and Aswan have witnessed the lowest tourist occupancy rates in Egypt.
Director General of Luxor Antiquities Sultan Eid said the incident happened 700 metres away from the temple gate, whilst confirming the temple is open and did not shut its gates to visitors, state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported.
Last Tuesday, unknown assailants killed two policemen from the Tourism Police Department and injured another, in a shooting near the Giza Pyramids.
Since the military ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, militant Islamist groups have frequently targeted security personnel, in North Sinai amounting to a full insurgency.
However, attacks that target touristic sites have been rare, with the exception of an attack on a tour bus in Taba, Sinai, killing three tourists.
The Luxor attack brings back memories of ’90s, when Egypt witnessed an insurgency by Islamist militant groups, which specifically target tourist destinations.
In 1997 members of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya salafist group attacked the Hatshepsut Temple in Luxor killing 58 tourists and four Egyptians.
In 2004, bomb attacks targeting the South Sinai city of Taba killed 34, and in 2005, Islamist militants targeted the resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh using car bombs. This resulted in the deaths of 88 people. In 2006, militants targeted the resort of Dahab, also in South Sinai, when suicide bombers killed 24 people.
Tourism, an important source of income for Egypt, suffered a major blow as a result of the upheaval in the years following the 25 January Revolution. The government under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has made intensive efforts to regain the trust of foreign tourists, which has resulted in a gradual improvement of tourism influx in the past year.