Egypt Militants Warn Tourists to Leave Country or Face Attack

Qaida-inspired group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claims responsibility for deadly Sinai bus attack.

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The Islamist militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has warned tourists to leave Egypt "before it's too late" and threatened to attack anyone who stays in the country after a deadline of February 20.

The Sinai-based group, which claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed two South Korean tourists and an Egyptian on Sunday, made the statement on an affiliated Twitter account.

"We recommend tourists to get out safely before the expiry of the deadline," read the tweet, written in English referring to a warning first issued on February 16 urging tourists to leave.

The warning has not appeared on the group's official website but the Twitter account has been accurate in the past.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, Arabic for Champions of Jerusalem, said in a statement posted on militant websites late Monday that one of its "heroes" carried out Sunday's bombing in Taba.

"God helped your brothers in Ansar Beit al-Maqdis to assign one of its heroes to blow up the tourist bus that was heading to the Zionist entity (Israel) as part of our economic war attacks on this traitorous hireling regime, which plundered the nation's wealth," the statement said

Egyptian officials have called the attack a suicide bombing, but the statement did not contain the usual phrasing, such as the word "martyr" or "God bless his soul" used in previous claims for attacks in which the bomber also died.

The statement lashed out at intensified Egyptian military operations in the Sinai Peninsula along the border with Israel targeting the militants' hideouts and vehicles.

The Egyptian regime is "killing innocent people, imprisoning women, demolishing their houses, looting their properties and flattening the lands at the border with Zionist enemy as well as displacing their owners merely to please their Jewish masters and protect their alleged borders," it said.

The Al-Qaida-inspired group has claimed responsibility for previous attacks, but until now they have targeted primarily police and the military. The attacks have spiked after the miitary's 2013 overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, spreading to cities of the Nile Delta and the capital, Cairo.

The group claimed responsibility for downing a military helicopter in Sinai in late January, killing all five crewmembers and the assassination earlier this month of a senior interior ministry aide and carried out a powerful truck bomb outside Cairo's main security directorate.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis took responsibility earlier this month for a rocket attack on the Israeli city of Eilat, which borders Egypt. An Iron Dome battery intercepted the projectile.

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified but it was posted on Al-Qaida-affiliated websites.

An Egyptian policeman inspects a damaged bus after a deadly explosion Sunday near the Egyptian border crossing with Israel in Taba, Egypt, Monday, February 17, 2014Credit: AP

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