Egypt Goes Guns-a-Blazing: 40 Terrorists Killed In Mass Raids Following Tour Bus Bombing

In the usual fashion of Egypt's Sisi-led military junta, security forces have gone into "terror hideouts" guns a blazing after Friday's bus bombing which left 4 dead and a dozen injured, mostly Vietnamese tourists visiting the Giza Pyramids outside of Cairo, in a casualty toll that climbed from two to four later in the day. The raids killed 40 terrorists according to Egyptian security officials, and authorities announced further the successful counter-terror operation thwarted a planned "series of attacks on tourist sites, churches and military personnel," according to the BBC.

The scene of the roadside bomb attack on a tourist bus in Giza province south of the Egyptian capital Cairo, via Getty Images

Reports identified that 30 of the militants were killed during early morning raids by police and military personnel in Giza while a further 10 were ambushed by security forces in Northern Sinai, according to the interior ministry. 

"A group of terrorists were planning to carry out a series of aggressive attacks targeting state institutions, particularly economic ones, as well as tourism... and Christian places of worship," the ministry statement said. And further the raids were ordered "as a continuation of the ministry's efforts in chasing terrorist elements involved in the implementation of hostile operations seeking to destabilize the country's security," the statement said.

The interior ministry also said police had seized large quantities of bomb-making materials, ammunition and a caches of weapons during the raids, touting these as proof that terror cells were effectively taken out.

Local media circulated government-released images of what are purported to be dead terrorists responsible for planting the roadside bomb in Giza as well as guns and ammunition

Yet it remains that no particular group has claimed credit for the attack, leaving questions over whether authorities actually killed the suspects responsible. 

Friday's attack was the first to target foreign tourists in almost two years, but given that it was carried out near the pyramids of Giza — the most visible and protected ancient site in the country  a massive response by police was expected, and indeed played out rapidly. 

In recent years Egypt has sought to clamp down on Islamic militants, especially those operating in the Sinai Peninsula, as not only have there been an uptick in attacks targeting the country's sizable Coptic Christian minority, but to protect Egypt's multi-billion dollar tourism industry — the country's main economic lifeline that's been historically threatened following any large-scale terror attack. Terrorists often conduct attacks on tourists knowing it could cripple the economy for years. 

Political instability following the "Arab Spring" protests in 2011 has also wreaked havoc on the tourism industry. For example, annual tourism revenue reached an all-time high of 12.50 USD Billion in 2010 just prior to mass anti-Hosni Mubarak protests, and a record low of 3.80 USD Billion in 2016 following tumultuous period of brief Muslim Brotherhood rule under Mohamed Morsi and a military coup which restored the power of the generals. 

The country's roughly 10%-15% Christian minority has been routinely targeted by Islamists as well. Egypt's ancient Orthodox Christian community has often been subject of church burnings and bomb attacks during the Christmas season as worshipers attend services. 

Following Friday's tour bus bombing, the US State Department condemned the attack, saying, "We stand with all Egyptians in the fight against terrorism and support the Egyptian government in bringing the perpetrators of this attack to justice." 

Likely, Egyptian security forces will remain trigger happy, ready to respond to terror threats with overwhelming force, given the economic survival of both the regime and the entire country is on the line.