A member of the Egyptian security stands guard in front of the entrance to Bella Vista Hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, Egypt, January 9, 2016.
Two Austrians and a Swede were wounded by two men stormed the beachside Bella Vista hotel in Hurghada on Friday night, reportedly raising an Isis flag. Renata and Wilhelm Weisslein, both 72, and Sammie Olovsson, 27, were not seriously wounded and are in a stable condition.
Security officials told the Reuters news agency that the assailants were also armed with a gun and explosives belt but were shot by police who repelled the assault.
A hotel manager said the planned suicide bomber was dragging a female tourist into the hotel’s lobby, holding a knife to her neck, when he was shot. He died at the scene but the second man was wounded and detained at the four-star Red Sea resort.
Sources told the BBC their aim was to kidnap tourists, while hotel staff said the attackers approached from the beach.
Initial reports said the men had opened fire and there were multiple accounts of hearing gunshots but the Egyptian interior ministry said they carried only knives and pellet guns.
A spokesperson named the dead attacker as 21 year old Mohammed Hassan Mohammed Mahfouz, a student from Giza in Cairo. The attack came hours after Isis claimed responsibility for an attack on a hotel near the Pyramids of Giza on Thursday.
A statement said supporters targeted a tourist bus carrying Jews and caused casualties, but no one was injured in the assault, casting doubt on the claim. A group of Arab Israeli tourists had been preparing to board a bus at the Three Pyramids Hotel when the attack started on Thursday morning.
Witness reports described Molotov cocktails being thrown at the building and gunmen firing live bullets but officials said only a homemade pellet gun and fireworks were used.
The Egyptian interior ministry again sought to reassure the public over the incident, claiming that security guards, rather than tourists, were the intended target and that at least one attacker was in custody.
Egypt’s tourist economy is struggling to recover from unrest triggered by the Arab Spring and military coup in 2013. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has declared an all-out war on Islamist militants who have launched suicide bombings and shootings across the country.
Egypt’s most active terrorist group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, pledged allegiance to Isis in 2014 and started calling itself Wilayat Sinai.
Its jihadists are mainly active in the Sinai Peninsula, where they claimed to have bombed a Russian passenger plane with 224 people on board in October, but have also claimed responsibility for attacks in Cairo, the western desert and Nile delta.
Following the attack in Hurghada, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised British nationals to stay in a safe location and follow the advice of local authorities.
Its travel advice warns of a “high threat from terrorism” in Egypt and warns UK citizens not to travel to the Sinai Peninsula or areas west of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta.
We believe that terrorists continue to plan attacks,” it says. “Attacks could be indiscriminate and occur without prior warning. Attacks targeting foreigners can’t be ruled out.