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'Too early' to assign blame for Sinai blast: S.Korean official

Statements come after Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claims Sunday's bomb blast on a tourist bus in Sinai

Yonhap, Ahram Online, Tuesday 18 Feb 2014
policeman inspects a damaged bus
An Egyptian policeman inspects a damaged bus after a deadly explosion Sunday near the Egyptian border crossing with Israel in Taba, Egypt, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 (Photo: AP)
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A South Korean foreign ministry official said it was "too early to determine" the perpetrators of Sunday's attack on a tourist bus in Egypt's Sinai that left three South Korean tourists dead, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on Tuesday.

The official's remarks follow a statement from the Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis in which it claimed the bombing.

Despite the militant group's declaration, the South Korean government is "waiting for the results of the Egyptian authorities' probe into who masterminded the attack and for what reason," the official added.

It is not clear if the attack specifically targeted South Koreans, the official said, noting that Egyptian officials seem to think that the bombing was aimed at foreign tourists in general to hurt the country's tourism industry.

Sunday's bombing on a bus carrying over 30 South Korean tourists resulted in the deaths of four, including the Egyptian driver. AFP reported on Monday that the South Koreans belonged to a church and were on a 12-day trip through Egypt, Turkey and Israel. The bus was returning from Saint Catherine Monastery and was near the Egypt-Israel border when the bomb went off.

Egypt's interior ministry said Monday the attack was caused by a suicide bomber.

South Korea's foreign ministry said on Monday that it couldn't "curb the feelings of resentment" from the attack. The country has since issued a travel advisory warning its citizens not to visit Egypt's coastal areas.

The bus blast is the first attack to target tourists since a bombing campaign began in Egypt following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

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