CAIRO, Egypt – Two veiled women shot at a tour bus, and the fiance of one of the women blew himself up as he leaped off a bridge during a police chase Saturday, wounding seven people in the second strike on tourists in less than a month, part of an apparent revival of violence against Egypt's most vital industry.
Both women and the bomber were killed in the attacks, which took place within about two hours of each other in locations about 2.5 miles apart.
Among the wounded were an Israeli couple, a Swedish man and an Italian woman, along with three Egyptians. Two Egyptians were wounded in the shooting, which targeted a bus headed toward one of Cairo's most prominent historic Islamic sites.
The attacks deepened fears that militants are launching a new round of violence in Egypt (search), which saw a bloody campaign by Islamic extremists in the 1990s. After that campaign was suppressed, the country saw a lull in violence until October, when near simultaneous bomb blasts in a Taba and another Sinai (search) resort killed 34 people. Then, on April 7, a suicide bomber targeted foreigners near the crowded Khan el-Khalili (search) tourist bazaar in Cairo, killing two French citizens and an American.
Tourism is Egypt's biggest earner of foreign currency, and the industry has built back after being severely hurt by the violence in the 1990s. Egyptian authorities have insisted the Khan el-Khalili attack was carried out by a limited cell and does not represent a revival of major militant groups.
The Interior Ministry said Saturday's bombing was a result of the police roundup of those behind the Khan el-Khalili attack. It said police earlier in the day captured two suspects in that attack and were chasing a third, Ehab Yousri Yassin, on a highway fly-over when he jumped off, setting off the nail-filled explosive he was carrying, the ministry said.
The two women who carried out the shooting were Yassin's sister and fiancee, the ministry said.
Two militant groups posted Web statements claiming responsibility for the twin attacks — the Mujahedeen of Egypt and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades. Neither claim's authenticity could be verified.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades (search) said Saturday's violence was in revenge for the arrests of thousands of people in Sinai after the Taba bombings, which it also claimed to have carried out. Egyptian authorities have said that attack was connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not domestic violence.
Saturday's blast went off in a crowded square between an exclusive hotel on the banks of the Nile and the Egyptian Museum, near a bus station that was relatively empty because of a holiday weekend.
Remains of a body, covered with newspapers, were seen beneath the bridge a few minutes after the 3:15 p.m. explosion was heard through downtown Cairo. Photos in state media showed the body lying in a pool of blood, its head destroyed in the blast.
The injured Swede — sitting upright in a stretcher with his bloody hands held to his face — was lifted by paramedics into an ambulance. On a nearby curb, two Westerners checked their wounds; the young woman's left arm was bloodied and the man sitting next to her appeared to have sustained leg injuries. The extent of the other woman's injuries weren't immediately clear.
"The explosion was caused by a very primitive bomb full of nails. Most of the injuries were superficial caused by the destruction of the nails," said Health Minister Mohammed Awad Tag Eddin (search).
Soon after, two women — dressed in head-to-toe black veils — carried out the shooting attack on a highway leading to the Citadel, a 12th century fortress with a towering 18th century mosque, in a part of old Cairo rich with historic sites and cemeteries.
The women were in car following the bus, then stopped and fired three bullets through its back window, then shot themselves, the Interior Ministry said. One died immediately and the other died later in the hospital, it said. Witnesses, however, said police opened fire on the women. Two other Egyptians were wounded in the shooting, and none of the tourists on the bus were wounded, police said.
At the site, a pistol and a black glove of the type worn by veiled women lay on the ground, amid blood and shattered glass.
Police launched a wave of arrests following the Khan el-Khalili bombing, which they initially said was carried out by a man acting alone. Later, however, they said he was part of a cell. At least three suspected cell members were arrested, along with more than 30 other people, most of them relatives of wanted suspects.
Two other suspects in the Khan attack — Ashraf Saeed Youssef and Gamal Ahmed Abdel Aal — were captured earlier Saturday, the Interior Ministry said. State media reported a day earlier that the two men along with Yassin — the man identified as Saturday's bomber — were wanted in the Khan attack.