A tragic attack on a Sufi mosque in Bir al-Abed (North Sinai) on Friday 24 November, carried out by a team of 25-30 armed men, has been called the region’s deadliest to date, with more than 300 people killed – including 27 children. Egypt has declared three days of mourning, and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this senseless act.
[caption id="attachment_1150" align="alignnone" width="544"] Map courtesy of CNN showing Bir al-Abed – the location of Egypt’s latest terrorist attack.[/caption]
As you can see from the map above, Bir al-Abed is not in an area popular with tourists, but it does illustrate that these groups have access to these popular areas.
“Egyptian security forces face almost daily attacks from militants with ISIS ties in northern Sinai,” reports CNN. “The Wilayat Sinai group, which pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2014, has been behind numerous attacks and hundreds of deaths in the desert region. It claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian passenger jet that crashed in October 2015 in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 224 people.”
The majority of attacks in Egypt focus on military and government targets, but the country is no stranger to attacks on religious centres. There have been attacks on Sufis and Christians in North Sinai recently, as well as on Coptic Christian churches and congregants in April and May 2017.
Global Terrorism Index
The recently published Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2017 noted that although Egypt is no longer one of the 10 countries most affected by terrorism, “Egypt and Turkey witnessed very large increases in terrorism (over the past few years) following government crackdowns. In Egypt, terrorism deaths increased nine-fold and in Turkey this figure has increased by 16 times.” There was a significant year-on-year decrease in terrorism in Egypt from 2015 to 2016, however.
The GTI ranks how each country has been affected by terrorism on a scale of 0–10, where 0 is no impact, and 10 is the highest impact. Iraq is at the top of the latest list, with a score of 10. Turkey ranks in 9th place, with a score of 7.519, while Egypt moved down to 11th with a score of 7.17. For a little more perspective, have a look at these scores alongside countries like Iraq, the USA, and the UK.
The GTI report points out: “For the first time Turkey was one of the ten most affected countries… In Turkey the majority of terrorist attacks are either from Kurdish separatists or arise from flow-on effects from the neighbouring Syrian conflict.”
Police are now most frequently targeted in terrorist attacks in Egypt (120 attacks in 2016 – nearly half of all attacks.) There was only one attack targeting tourists in 2016.
Does this mean Egypt is now safer than Turkey?
Unfortunately, we don’t believe either country can be called “safer”
- Remember that these scores reflect each country as a whole
- They don’t show how terrorism affects a particular area, e.g. terrorism in North Sinai is very different to terrorism in the Red Sea resort region.
- Increases and decreases in total levels of terrorism are related to countless factors, and cannot predict what will or won’t happen in the future.
- In both countries, terrorism targets the public less frequently than it does police/military, but the public can be affected even when not directly targeted.
Should we go?
Only you can make that decision, but we would suggest considering the following:
- Are you looking for a beach/resort holiday specifically? If so, there are many other destinations that have a far lower rate of terrorism.
- Do your research – check security measures at your hotel/resort, as well as airports, travel routes, and tourist attractions that you plan to visit.
- Make travel choices with which you feel comfortable. Don’t be talked into something if your peace of mind is at stake, but don’t let fear take over. Look at the situation objectively.
- Enhance your peace of mind with the appropriate travel insurance.
Top up any policy with comprehensive terrorism cover – it can be infinitely valuable if you’re directly or indirectly affected by terrorism. With Safe Journey, a single trip policy costs as little as £4.96pp per week, and allows you to choose to cancel your trip if there’s an act of terrorism anywhere within a 40-mile radius of your destination, up to 6 weeks prior to your departure. (That’s just a summary though – get the full inclusions, exclusions, terms and conditions here.)
- Keep your eyes open – wherever you go. Be aware of your surroundings, and report any suspicious items or activity.
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