Survivors of bus attack in Egypt return to Seoul

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Survivors of bus attack in Egypt return to Seoul

The suicide bomber who set off a bomb on a Korean tourist bus in the Sinai region of Egypt was confirmed to be found among the four others killed in the blast, a Korean official confirmed yesterday.

According to the initial investigation by Egyptian authorities, the suicide bomber followed the two Korean tour guides and the Egyptian driver onto the bus after they briefly stepped out and then returned onboard, the official said.

The tour bus had been parked in the small resort town of Taba, near the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, close to the Israeli border, when the unidentified man boarded the vehicle, witnesses claimed. This is in accordance with previous witness accounts that an unidentified man in his 20s had boarded the bus and detonated the explosives near the driver’s seat.

Three Koreans, including a 64-year-old woman who was a part of a Christian pilgrimage, and two tour guides, along with the Egyptian bus driver, were previously confirmed dead. Egypt’s Interior Ministry indicated that the fifth body had been badly burned.

The first group of 15 people who had survived the explosion arrived at Incheon International Airport yesterday. They were part of a group of 31 members from the Jincheon Central Presbyterian Church in North Chungcheong, accompanied by two tour guides who embarked on Feb. 12 on a religious trip with stops in Turkey, Egypt and Israel.

The group’s leader, Minister Kim Dong-hwan, had one toe amputated, according to family members, while some of those injured have not yet had shrapnel from the explosion embedded in their limbs removed. The bodies of the three Korean victims are expected to be repatriated for funeral proceedings, the Korean official said.

The recovering group of 15 is scheduled to return to Korea soon. According to Jincheon County officials yesterday, they have begun transit to Cairo and could arrive in Incheon as early as today. The Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which claimed responsibility for the attack via Twitter, further warned all tourists in a new tweet on Tuesday to leave the country within four days.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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