Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Egypt. The main threat is from extremists linked to Daesh-Sinai. You should avoid crowded places and gatherings, eg, in or around religious sites and during religious festivals, such as the month of Ramadan and the Christmas period up to 7 January (Coptic Christmas), when terrorist groups have sometimes called for attacks. Take extra care over local holiday weekends, as some terrorist attacks have occurred during these times. You should follow the advice of the Egyptian authorities and your travel company, if you have one.
The authorities in Egypt maintain a significant security presence across the country, including armed security officers stationed at important sites, critical infrastructure, and road checkpoints. Extra measures are in place at tourist sites.
The Egyptian government’s counter-terrorism campaign has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of terrorist attacks on the Egyptian mainland since January 2015.
In recent years, Egyptian security forces have dealt with 3 terrorist attacks on tourist locations. On 14 July 2017, 2 foreign tourists were killed and several others injured following a knife attack at beach resorts in Hurghada. The attacker was arrested and Egyptian authorities are carrying out investigations. Attacks also took place in Luxor in June 2015 and in Hurghada in January 2016, without loss of life.
Daesh-Sinai (formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM)) is the most active terrorist group in Egypt. In November 2014, ABM announced they had pledged allegiance to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL).
Most Daesh-Sinai attacks have targeted government and security forces, but foreigners have also been targeted. Their main area of operations is northern Sinai, but the group has claimed responsibility for attacks in other areas including South Sinai, Cairo, the western desert and Nile delta cities.
In North Sinai there are frequent, almost daily reports of terrorist attacks. Most attacks are in the northeast corner of the governorate between Al-Arish city and the border with Gaza, but the whole of the North Sinai governorate is at risk.
Most attacks are against the Egyptian government and military installations and personnel; however attacks have been carried out against civilians suspected of working with the authorities and recently in 2017 against local religious minority groups.
Religious sites have been targeted by terrorist groups:
- on 24 November 2017, terrorists killed over 300 civilians at a North Sinai mosque during Friday prayers
- on 18 April 2017 a group of militants opened fire on a security checkpoint near Saint Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai killing a police officer. Daesh have claimed responsibility for this attack
- on 11 December 2016, a church next to the Orthodox Cathedral in Abbaseya, Cairo, was attacked by a Daesh-linked suicide bomber killing 29 people
Other attacks have included:
- on 20 October 2017, several policemen and militants were killed during a shoot-out following a raid on a terrorist group in Bahariya Oasis in Egypt’s Western Desert, according to Egyptian authorities
- on 31 October 2015, a flight from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg crashed in North Sinai resulting in the deaths of 224 people, most tourists. Egyptian and Russian authorities are conducting an investigation. The investigation hasn’t yet formally concluded, but on 17 November 2015 Russian authorities stated that the crash was caused by an explosive device on board the flight
- on 9 December 2016 there was an IED attack targeting a checkpoint on Pyramid Road in Giza, killing at least 6 police officers. Harakat Hasm, a violent terrorist group, claimed responsibility
- on 8 January 2016, a Daesh-inspired knife attack at the Bella Vista Hotel in Hurghada resulted in injuries to 3 foreign tourists. One of the attackers was killed and the other was injured and arrested
There is also a threat of maritime terrorism:
- in August 2013, there was an attack against a container ship in the Suez Canal
- an attack on Egyptian navy vessels in November 2014 may also be linked to terrorism
There is a threat of kidnapping, particularly in remote desert areas. The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage-takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking.
There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.