Published Friday, Nov. 21, 1997
A train ride away from terrorism
By Kim Curry
Herald Staff Writer
Ann Paczak, who arrived safely at her Farrell home Wednesday night from Egypt, said she and her companions didn't panic about being a train ride away from Luxor during Monday's massacre.
``We weren't frightened at all,'' Miss Paczak said Thursday.
She overheard a woman whisper something to the tour guide about an ``incident'' at Luxor soon after it happened but the tour director didn't tell the group until later.
``You in America knew about it before we did,'' she said, adding that she got word to cousins in the Shenango Valley through one of her companions, Anne Goda, retired obituary writer of The Herald.
Mrs. Goda, of South Pymatuning Township, called her daughter, Stephanie Rossi of Clark, to say they and Mrs. Goda's sister, Mary Miller, were OK.
``She was frantic,'' Mrs. Goda said of her daughter. ``She had learned about it at 6:30 in the morning Monday.''
``I was never uneasy,'' she added. ``I'm just thankful we weren't at Luxor that day _ 24 hours earlier we would have been.''
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called an emergency Cabinet meeting Thursday to draft a new security plan for tourist sites after Egyptian Islamic militants claimed responsibility for killing 58 foreigners at a Pharaonic temple near Luxor.
The militants said the attack was meant to force the United States to free Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. The blind Muslim cleric is serving a life term in the U.S. for his involvement in a plot to bomb New York City landmarks.
The local women _ who traveled to Rome in 1995 and Ukraine in 1996 _ signed onto the NAWAS International Travel Inc. trip to the Holy Land four months ago. Egypt became an option last month.
They left Pittsburgh on Nov. 7 and stayed with the NAWAS group in Israel until Sunday, Nov. 16. Eighteen of the 28 decided to continue into Egypt, where police escorted them to Cairo.
``The children and people there were so friendly,'' Mrs. Goda said. ``We felt very comfortable'' touring pyramids, the Sphinx and a museum.
The group's Tuesday schedule called for an overnight train to Luxor, including the temple.
``The guide just said there was a problem in Luxor,'' Mrs. Goda said. ``We didn't know the massacre lasted three hours.'' After learning more, the tourists decided to spend Tuesday at the hotel or touring. They left for the airport at 2 a.m. Tuesday with another police escort.
``It was thoroughly enjoyable,'' Miss Paczak said. ``When it comes to the Holy Land I would suggest anybody go. It (terrorism) happens everywhere in the world.''
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Updated Nov. 21, 1997
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