August 27, 1994
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Muslim extremists threatened to attack participants in next month's U.N. population conference in Cairo, charging that the meeting will deal with immoral subjects.
The threat from the al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, or Islamic Group, was contained in a fax sent to a Western news agency and obtained today by The Associated Press.
Also today, five suspected Islamic extremists and an Egyptian policeman were killed in a shootout in Sohag in southern Egypt. The clash occurred when police raided a Muslim hideout a day after radicals opened fire on a tour bus nearby, killing a Spanish boy.
It was not immediately clear if the extremists killed today were involved in the bus attack.
In its fax, the Islamic Group also claimed responsibility for the bus attack. The group has waged a 2 1/2-year campaign of violence to overthrow Egypt's secular government and replace it with Islamic rule.
The violence came little more than a week before the U.N. International Conference on Population and Development is expected to bring about 15,000 visitors to Egypt.
The government has increased security in Cairo and hopes the conference will help rebuild Egypt's tourist business, which has been devastated by the radicals' violent campaign.
Muslim fundamentalists oppose the conference's treatment of abortion, equal rights for women and sex education for unmarried people.
The Islamic Group's statement warned that "all foreigners who are participating in the licentious conference ... are jeopardizing themselves."
It added: "The Islamic Group starts a new stage in its attacks, it appeals to all foreigners not to come to Egypt in the coming period to save their souls."
There was no way to authenticate the fax, but it appeared to be similar to earlier statements from the group.
Fundamentalist lawyers have filed suit trying to block the conference, and Cairo's Al-Azhar University, a center of Islamic learning, called upon Islamic countries to seek to have controversial issues removed from the U.N. program.
More than 400 people have been killed, many of them policemen and extremists. Other targets have included government officials and minority Coptic Christians. The Spanish boy was the fifth foreign tourist to die.
But in recent months the police have largely succeeded in isolating the radicals in their strongholds around the southern city of Assiut, and their campaign has dwindled to shootouts between militants and security agents.
In the bus attack, Pablo Rochan, 13, was killed and four others were wounded near the southern town of Nag Hamadi, about 290 miles south of Cairo. The Spanish Embassy said today that the wounded, including the boy's parents, were taken to a military hospital in Cairo aboard an Egyptian air force plane.
The boy's father, Leopoldo Usan, was in stable condition with a chest wound, the embassy said. The rest suffered minor wounds.