Although it came amid rising tensions in the Mideast and Gulf, TIME Mideast Bureau Chief Scott MacLeod believes the attack was probably motivated by local conflicts.
Says MacLeod: "This appears to be another attempt by Islamic extremists to hit the Egyptian government in an area that is vital to the Egyptian economy — tourism. It’s a headline-maker around the world, and creates the impression of instability, despite the fact that Egypt is actually fairly stable."
The bloodiest attack yet on foreigners in Egypt coincides with the opening of a major international tourism conference in London and comes days after two men responsible for the September slaying of nine tourists in Cairo were sentenced to death.
It may achieve its intended impact. Although authorities reported that all six gunmen were killed in a shoot-out with police at the scene, that's little comfort to would-be tourists scared off by the prospect of becoming targets in Egypt’s political crossfire.