Egypt: Red Sea tourists tell of restaurant stabbings

Sammie Olovsson, 27, a Swedish tourist who was stabbed in the neck in an attack on a hotel Friday, explains his injury to journalists at a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, Egypt. Picture: AP
Sammie Olovsson, 27, a Swedish tourist who was stabbed in the neck in an attack on a hotel Friday, explains his injury to journalists at a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, Egypt. Picture: AP
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THREE European tourists who were stabbed at a Red Sea resort in Egypt were only lightly wounded and are in stable condition, hospital officials said.

The victims – identified as Austrians Renata and Wilhelm Weisslein, both 72, and Swede Sammie Olovsson, 27 – suffered shallow wounds.

Two suspected militants attacked the tourists at a hotel in Hurghada late on Friday and raised a Islamic State flag, according to reports. Security forces shot both assailants, killing one and wounding the other before arresting him.

An Islamic State affiliate claimed another attack on Thursday at a hotel in Cairo, near the Pyramids, but no-one was injured.

Yesterday, gunmen killed two police officers in Cairo while they were on their way to work in the Giza district.

A local Islamic State affiliate in Egypt has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Egypt has been battling an insurgency based in the northern Sinai peninsula that grew following the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

The Interior Ministry said that in the Hurghada attack, two men armed with knives and pellet guns attacked the tourists in a restaurant at the front of the four-star, seaside Bella Vista Hotel.

Jan-Eric Olovsson, the 64-year-old father of the Swedish victim, told the Swedish Expressen newspaper they were having dinner in the restaurant when the attackers stormed in.

“Everything went really fast. We sat there and ate and then they showed up,” he said. “I thought they came from outside. I myself had the gun pointed at me three times, and Sammie was stabbed with the knife.”

He said his son was stabbed four times in the neck but “did well” because of his physical strength.

“I told him to lie still,” he said, recalling how his son lay in a pool of blood. “I got up a few times and when I saw it was clear, I ran out on the street and tried to get hold of an ambulance.”

He said another woman eating in the restaurant was also wounded.

Shortly after the attack, Sammie Olovsson updated his Facebook profile, saying he was “lucky” to have deflected the knife when the attacker tried to stab him in the chest. He said the knife cut some muscles in his neck but no arteries or nerves, and he would be able to leave the hospital yesterday.

Egypt has been struggling to revive its tourism industry after years of unrest stemming from the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The apparent bombing of a Russian passenger plane over Sinai last year, claimed by IS, led to widespread flight cancellations, dealing a major blow to the industry which is one of the country’s main earners.

Sean Tipton of Abta, the association of travel agents and tour operators, said Egypt has already suffered a “significant drop-off” in tourism in the wake of terror attacks.

The other victims were also stable enough to be discharged yesterday, Nile Hospital chairman Reda el-Naggar said.

The Olovssons’ trip was organised by one of Sweden’s largest tour operators, Apollo. The company’s head Peter Browall said guests were given the option of relocating after the attack.

“Some have decided to do so. Not all have. This is done based on individual dialogues we have with them,” he said.

Hurghada is “a small destination for Apollo Sweden”, Browall said.

He could not provide any figures, but said interest in Egypt had dropped following recent attacks.

Zainab Feili, a young Swede who survived Friday’s ordeal unharmed, described a scene of chaos. “Everybody just ran. We hear shots. Everybody cries. It was awful,” she said.