The Levant News–
Saudi King Salman has expressed “full confidence” in Egyptian security measures, ordering Riyadh’s national airline to continue flights to Sharm el-Sheikh despite suspicions a bomb downed a Russian jet flying from the resort.
An ally of Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the king “directed Saudi Arabian Airlines to continue running flights to Sharm el-Sheikh from Riyadh and Jeddah in support of tourism in the Arab Republic of Egypt,” the Saudi Press Agency reported Thursday.
“The king stressed full confidence in Egyptian security, army and government,” it said.
Sisi Wednesday promised a transparent probe and cautioned against hasty conclusions over what brought down the Metrojet Airbus A321 over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 31, killing all 224 people on board.
ISIS’ Sinai branch the Sinai Province claimed responsibility, but has not explained how it carried out the attack.
Russia and Britain suspended all flights to Sharm el-Sheikh after saying it feared a bomb caused the disaster and voicing concerns over airport security at the Red Sea resort.
Egypt’s tourism industry, vital to its economy, has already suffered from years of political instability and attacks claimed by militants.
Cairo says militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since 2013, when the army ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
In the Sinai town of Rafah, gunmen killed eight civilians, including a child, security sources said Thursday.
Unidentified armed men shot and killed seven men and a 4-year-old child in their home in Al-Arish in North Sinai Wednesday night, a security official said.
The source said the victims, who were from Rafah on the border with the Gaza Strip and lived near a police station, had been killed for cooperating with the security forces.
The eight bodies were taken Thursday morning to a hospital in Al-Arish, a medical official there said.
The Sinai Province has previously claimed to have executed several Sinai Peninsula inhabitants that it accused of being informants for the security forces.
Meanwhile, gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a church near Cairo Thursday, setting off a gun battle with police, Egypt’s official news agency said.
No one was killed.
The MENA news agency said the three attackers escaped after the firefight.
It said police guarding the evangelical church near the Giza pyramids were left with scrapes and bruises.
Attacks on churches and Egypt’s Christian minority have increased over the past decade as tensions have grown with the country’s Muslim majority, sometimes exacerbated by officials.
Egypt’s Coptic Christians have long complained of being treated like second-class citizens.
They now make up about 10 percent of a population of around 90 million, making them the largest Christian community in the Middle East.
Source: The Daily Star, Lebanon.