Al Qaeda-Linked Group Claims Taba Bus Bombing

The Egyptian border town of Taba was still in a state of chaos Monday after a bomb on a tour bus killed three Korean tourists and the Egyptian driver on Sunday. Police said 13 others were injured in the blast.

Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group, has claimed responsibility for the attack. In a Tweet on Monday, the group vowed to "continue to attack" tourism and military sites in Egypt.

The injured Koreans were being treated in a nearby hospital under military protection in case of another terror attack. A Korean Embassy official from Israel who was dispatched to Taba said the 13 injured tourists and two of their relatives were currently in hospital. "Most of them suffered leg injuries," the official said.

Others suffered ruptured ear drums.

The 31 tourists came from North Chungcheong Province and were celebrating the 60th anniversary of their church with a pilgrimage to holy sites along the Israeli-Egyptian border. After touring the St. Catherine convent on Mt. Sinai, they arrived in Taba to head back across the border into Israel. As the group tried to get off the bus a young Egyptian man tried to board it.

As the man tried to step inside the bus, a Korean tour guide pushed him out and demanded to know who he was. As the Egyptian fell out, the bomb strapped to his body went off.

The tour guide was among those killed by the explosion. One tourist, Kim Young-cheol, said the tour guide "sacrificed himself to save us."

The Korean Embassy in Cairo and local police said the terrorist did not appear to be targeting Koreans but chose the victims at random. No terror group in Egypt has so far targeted Asians, and there was no particular reason to do so this time, according to police.

The bus carrying the Koreans was apparently the only tour bus near the border at the time, while normally five or six are parked there.

As terror attacks become more frequent in the region, the number of European tourists has dwindled, but Korean visitors continue to arrive there, making them easy targets.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 18, 2014 09:40 KST