The Luxor Massacre
The 17th of November 1997 AD
The Islamist terrorist outrage at the Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor on November 17 1997 saw 59 tourists and four Egyptians murdered by six young members of al-Gemaa al-Islamiya. Among the dead were six Britons, including three members of the same Yorkshire family: grandmother Joan Turner; her 24-year-old daughter Karina; and Karina’s five-year-old daughter Shaunnah.
At about 8.45 the terrorists belonging to a group whose name translates as Holy War of the Vanguard of the Conquest arrived at the temple disguised as members of Egypt’s security forces. They were armed with automatic weapons and knives. Trapped inside the temple was a busload of tourists, whom the murderers proceeded to slaughter with bullet and blade. Some victims were said to have been mutilated by the killers.
Having carried out the slaughter the killers then hijacked another bus and tried to escape, but were caught at a checkpoint and one of their number killed in the subsequent fire-fight. The others made it to the hills where they are said to have committed suicide in a cave.
After the attack Egypt’s tourist industry was devastated as the terrorists had hoped. President Mubarak at one point suggested British refusal to extradite opponents of his regime contributed to the tragedy; some Islamist groups claimed preposterously the gunmen had been trying to take hostages; others predictably blamed Israel. But investigations pointed to funding of the atrocity by the then far from famous al-Qaeda, wishing to prevent any settlement between Islamist groups and the Egyptian government. The absolute ruthlessness of al-Qaeda had been demonstrated. And the world was left wondering about the sanity of religious zealots able to justify to themselves the cold-blooded murder of a five-year-old girl.
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