Egyptian militants warn tourists to leave country or face attack

CAIRO Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:24am GMT

General view of the pyramids during the opening of the Copa Coca-Cola Cup in Egypt at the Giza Pyramids plateau February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

General view of the pyramids during the opening of the Copa Coca-Cola Cup in Egypt at the Giza Pyramids plateau February 16, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

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CAIRO (Reuters) - The Islamist militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has told tourists to leave Egypt 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 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.

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

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

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Egypt's most active Islamist militant organisation, has threatened to topple the interim government installed by army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The group's statement referred to a warning first issued on February 16 urging tourists to leave.

(Reporting By Omar Fahmy; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Michael Georgy and Janet Lawrence)

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