Egypt militants warn tourists to leave or face attack

(Reuters) – A militant Islamist group has warned tourists to leave Egypt and threatened to attack any who stay in the country after February 20, raising the prospect of a new front in a fast-growing insurgency.

The Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group, which claimed responsibility for a suicide 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.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has said in the past that it does not post statements on social media sites but statements that appeared on the Twitter account in the past have afterwards surfaced on jihadi websites the group does say it uses.

Islamist militants have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the army deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July, but Sunday’s attack on a tourist bus marks a strategic shift to soft targets that could devastate an economy already reeling from political turmoil.

“What Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has announced, threatening to target tourists in the coming period, puts new challenges in front of the Egyptian security apparatus and the state in general,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif.

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