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Egypt derogates ISIS threat against pyramids

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Giza Pyramids southwest of Cairo used to attract millions of visitors from around the world

Cairo: Egyptian authorities have played down a threat by terrorist Daesh to demolish the world famous Pyramids near Cairo.

The threat was made in a video released last week purporting to show Daesh militants blowing up a temple in Iraq’s ancient town of Nimrud. At the end of the footage, the Pyramids and the adjoining Sphinx are displayed as a militant vows to destroy what he calls “ancient sites built by infidels”.

“These are unrealistic threats,” said Dar Al Ifta, an official Islamic institution in charge of passing fatwas (edicts) to Muslims in Egypt.

The Daesh terrorists, who are active in Iraq and Syria, destroyed several ancient sites in both countries in recent months, describing them as idols.

“The terrorist organisation demolished antiquities and historic temples only after controlling the areas that housed these artefacts. This is unlikely to happen in Egypt, which is a strong country having valiant armed forces and police,” Dar Al Ifta added in a statement on Saturday.

“These threats are just aimed at undermining tourism in Egypt and depriving the country of an important foreign currency source.”

The Giza Pyramids southwest of Cairo used to attract millions of visitors from around the world.

But the number has dwindled since the 2011 uprising, as Egypt’s tourism has felt the pinch of the turmoil that followed the revolt.

Last October, the vital industry suffered a crushing blow after a Russian passenger plane crashed in Egypt’s Sinai, killing all 224 on board. Daesh claimed responsibility for downing the airliner.

In February this year, Egypt unveiled a plan to increase security around the Pyramids, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The plan features building more entry gates, security watch towers and new roads, as well as expanding the lighting service to cover the desert hinterland of the site.

“It is impossible to carry out any terror operations inside the Pyramids area because tight security measures are in place,” said Ashraf Mohie, head of the archaeological zone that seats the colossal monuments. These measures include sophisticated control gates, thorough search of visitors and heavy presence of security forces. “There is a highly trained team in the area to handle explosives,” the official added.

Interior Minister Majdy Abdul Gafar has ordered security be tightened across the nation’s tourist and archaeological areas in response to the latest threat, private newspaper Al Chorouk reported.

Daesh has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks in Egypt since the army’s 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi following massive protests against his rule.

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