Comments made on twitter regarding this incident to the BBC support the contention that the area of attack was a “safe zone”.
For instance Western Desert Tours has been operating in the area offering tours of the sand and oasis. It received an award of excellence in 2014 from the customer rating service Trip Advisor. Many other companies are offering safaris to the area.
Egypt borders on states in N. Africa that have become unstable in recent years. Libya and Sudan on the west have become conduits for terrorist and counterrevolutionary activities. On the east where most of the attention has been focussed recently, Egypt shares borders with the Palestinian Territories(Gaza Strip) and Israel. The military government has been demolishing homes in the Sinai Desert to prevent unauthorized border crossings. The military there has come under increasingly deadly attacks.
Egypt relies heavily on other countries for direct aid to finance itself but it also gains significant foreign currency from its tourist trade. Since the military coup in that country, the tourism industry has declined. At its high point over $12 billion USD was collected from travellers in one year.
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