ASSIUT, Egypt (AP) _ A German tourist aboard a Nile cruise ship was shot in the neck by machinegun-armed assailants who fired from the shore as the boat passed through an area known for Islamic extremism today.

Hospital spokesmen reported the woman was in critical condition.

The boat, which had 33 German tourists among its passengers, was traveling with another cruiser from Luxor to Cairo when it was attacked at Sidfa, a town outside Assiut, 200 miles south of Cairo.

Security officials in Assiut said police did not know how many assailants fired on the boat. The other cruiser was not hit.

Jurgen Steltzer, spokesman at the German Embassy, said police guarding the boat returned fire, but there was no word on whether any of the attackers was hit. Steltzer said he understood nobody else was harmed on the boat.

Gamil Basnetty, a hospital receptionist at Abu Tig, near Sidfa, said the 54-year-old woman received first-aid treatment there for a bullet wound in the right side of her neck and was transferred to a larger hospital in Assiut.

The woman's name could not immediately be confirmed.

People in the Assiut region consider Sidfa the operational area for some of the most radical adherents of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, or the Islamic Group, which wants to install a strict Islamic regime in Egypt.

More than 300 people - mainly security forces and extremists - have died since extremists began confronting President Hosni Mubarak's largely secular government in early 1992.

A cruise boat was fired on at Abu Tig on Sept. 18, but no casualties resulted.