Egypt Explosions Kill at Least 22, Wound 150 Others 

April 24 , 2006 (Bloomberg) -- Egypt said at least 22 people were killed and 150 others were wounded in explosions in the coastal resort of Dahab, according to state-run television. At least four of the dead were foreigners.

The New York Times cited a toll of 30 dead, attributing the figure to the Ministry of Health. Basma Mahmoud, a spokeswoman at Egypt's United Nations mission in New York said three successive explosions took place at the el-Mashrabiyah Hotel.

Egypt's official news service said the blasts happened in a commercial market, ``near coffee shops popular with tourists, by the beach.'' The differing accounts couldn't immediately be reconciled.

While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the bombings came a day after the broadcast of an audio message attributed to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden that threatened the U.S. and other Western countries. Egypt is a major U.S. ally in the Arab world.

Dahab is located on the eastern side of the Sinai Peninsula, on the Gulf of Aqaba. The governor of the province, Mohamed Hani Metwali, told the Egyptian news agency that all roads and access to Dahab and cities in the area were sealed off as authorities hunted for suspects.

Resorts Targeted

The attack is the latest to strike coastal resorts on the Sinai, which abuts Israel and is popular with Israeli tourists. At least 64 people died in July in coordinated bombings at hotels in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, south of Dahab. Bombings in and around the Egyptian Sinai resort of Taba in 2004 killed 34 people, including Israelis.

Among those injured in the Dahab attack were nationals of Italy, France, Denmark and Georgia, along with Egyptians who worked in the market area bombed, Egypt's state-run Nile TV reported.

Interim Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed his country's condolences to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in a telephone call.

``Egypt is determined to fight the forces of terrorism that are threatening the sons of the nation and their livelihood, and seeks to harm the nation's security and stability,'' Mubarak said in a statement carried by the state- run news service.

The attack took place during Shem el-Nessim, a traditional one-day national holiday celebrating the start of spring after Coptic Orthodox Easter.

In bin Laden's audiotape message, he asked his followers to fight ``crusaders'' in western Sudan, where the United Nations is seeking to send 20,000 troops.

Bin Laden

In the last audiotape attributed to bin Laden, aired on Jan. 19 by al-Jazeera, the al-Qaeda leader threatened new strikes against the U.S., while offering a ``long-term truce'' linked to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. rejected the offer.

French President Jacques Chirac last week met with Mubarak to request that Egypt pressure the Hamas-led Palestinian government to renounce violence after Hamas endorsed an April 17 suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed nine Israelis. Egypt has worked as an interlocutor between Israel and the Palestinians.

In his most recent audiotape, bin Laden said the international isolation of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government proves there is a crusade against Islam.

The U.S. and European Union cut off aid to the Palestinian government to protest Hamas' refusal to renounce violence and its aim to destroy Israel. Both the U.S. and EU label Hamas a terrorist organization for its attacks on Israeli civilians.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Todd Zeranski in New York at  tzeranski@bloomberg.net;
Bill Varner in United Nations at  wvarner@bloomberg.net.
Last Updated: April 24, 2006 19:03 EDT

Perfect timing for local militants to strike

Brian Whitaker
Tuesday April 25, 2006
The Guardian

Just one day after Osama bin Laden issued another chilling message, last night's bombings in Egypt will inevitably revive the suspicions voiced by Washington that al-Qaida tapes sometimes contain coded instructions for terrorists.

However, it is easy to see why local militants, of their own accord, might have decided to strike in Egypt last night. It was holiday time - the Coptic Christian Easter - when many enjoy a seaside break in Sinai. It was also the eve of Sinai Liberation Day, which marks the return of lands captured by Israel: returned under the peace treaty for which former president Anwar Sadat paid with his life.

If the timing was obvious, so was the target. For years, terrorists in Egypt have sought to attack the tourism industry on which the country depends for much of its foreign earnings.

Two attacks in 1997 - a massacre outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and at Luxor in southern Egypt - wreaked havoc with tourism, but also angered many Egyptians who depend on the trade for their livelihoods, forcing the Islamists to call a truce. After a lull of seven years, attacks resumed in 2004 with the Taba bombings in Sinai, which killed 34 people, including Israeli tourists. Last July, a series of bombings in Sharm el-Sheikh, on the southern tip of Sinai, killed at least 64 people, again mainly tourists.

The Egyptian authorities said the militants who carried out the bombings were locals without international connections, though security agencies have said they suspect al-Qaida.

Attacks on tourist resorts have not been limited to Egypt. Al-Qaida has been blamed for targeting tourist resorts around the world in a campaign of bombings. In October 2002 a series of bombs exploded outside the Sari nightspot in Kuta Beach, a nightclub district of Bali in Indonesia. A total of 202 people, including 26 Britons, were killed and 132 injured.

The following month a bomb at the Israeli-owned Paradise hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, killed 16 and injured 40, minutes after two missiles narrowly missed an Israeli holiday jet that had just taken off from the city's airport. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility

In May 2003 bombers set off at least five explosions in Casablanca, Morocco, which hit a Spanish restaurant, a five-star hotel and a Jewish community centre, killing 45 people, including 12 bombers, and wounding about 60.

Then in November 2005, three suicide bombings at hotels in Amman killed 57 people, most of them Jordanians attending wedding parties. Three Americans were also killed. An al-Qaida website claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Al-Qaida itself grew in part out of Egyptian extremist groups, and many of its key figures are, or have been, Egyptians. They include Bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the late Muhammad Atef, as well as Mohammed Atta, the leader of the September 11 hijackers.

Many regard Zawahiri, who was jailed in Egypt for his role in the assassination of President Sadat in 1981, as the brains behind many of al-Qaida's deadliest operations.

In the latest wave of bombings the Egyptian authorities have tended to make reassuring noises, though their general approach suggests a lack of precise intelligence. In the wake of the Taba incident they rounded up thousands of people for questioning. Four months later, according to Human Rights Watch, as many as 2,400 detainees were still being held.

by: http://www.guardian.co.uk/egypt/story/0,,1760842,00.html


Egyptian President condemns bomb blasts in Dahab
www.chinaview.cn 2006-04-25 08:10:40

    CAIRO, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak condemned the three bomb blasts in the Red Sea resort of Dahab in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Monday evening as "terrorist act" and vowed to bring perpetrators to justice, according to Egypt's official MENA news agency.

    At least 30 people were killed and more than 150 others wounded after the three explosions caused by remote-controlled bombs rocked the tourist town, Egyptian police and medics said.  

    However, the Egyptian Interior Ministry put the death toll at 10 including four foreigners and six Egyptians, in addition to 70 wounded.

    The three bombs were planted respectively in a hotel, a market and a restaurant, and exploded almost simultaneously at around 7:15 p.m. local time (1715 GMT).

    A witness in the tourist bazaar area of Dahab town said that a plume of smoke was rising into sky and panicky people were running around after a huge explosion was heard.

    Dozens of ambulances and police cars rushed to the scenes after the explosions, police said.

    Dahab is located on the Gulf of Aqaba on the eastern side of the Sinai Peninsula.

    At least 60 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in three bomb explosions in the most popular Red Sea resort of Sharmel-Sheikh, 85 km south of Dahab, on July 23, 2005.  

    Three Israelis were among the wounded, according to Israeli rescue services.

    No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blasts.  

    U.S. President George W. Bush also condemned the Dahab blasts.  

    "Today we saw again that the terrorists are willing to try to define the world the way they want to see it," Bush said in Las Vegas, Nevada. Enditem

From: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-04/25/content_4469685.htm


'I saw people without heads'
By Jano Gibson
April 25, 2006 - 9:46AM

Were you anywhere near the blast? Email us here.

Tourists have told of pandemonium in the streets after three bombs exploded within seconds of each other in a popular backpacking district in Egypt, killing at least 22 people and injuring scores more.

Officials said a Russian and a Swiss national were among the victims of the near simultaneous bombings at the Red Sea resort of Dahab, the third such attack to hit resorts on the Sinai peninsula in 18 months.

Egyptian television reported that an Australian tourist was among the injured in three deadly explosions at an Egyptian holiday resort, where 23 have died.

Khaled El-Tiasty from the Dahab Divers Hotel  said  television reports indicated 18 Egyptians and four Europeans had died in the blasts, but authorities expected the toll to rise.

"The news is telling us there was one Australian among the victims. I'm not really sure if he was injured or passed away," Mr El-Tiasty said.

The interior ministry said the blasts ripped through the Ghazala supermarket and the Nelson and Aladdin restaurants in central Dahab, which lies on the south-east of the peninsula about 530km by road from Cairo.

"We have 10 complete bodies and body parts for 12 other people," Doctor Said Issa, the head of medical emergencies for the South Sinai governorate, told reporters.

Egyptian security sources said at least four foreigners were killed in the attacks and Israeli army radio said three Israelis were among the wounded.

Remote controlled bombs

State television said the blasts appeared to have been the result of remote controlled bombs, not suicide bombers.

An Australian  also told of his escape from the blasts while eating in a restaurant two doors away.

"I saw people without heads, without legs, without nothing [taken] to the hospital," said Joseph Pouitou, a 24-year-old Israeli backpacker who was just 20 metres from the blast.

"I was in Israel 24 years [and] I never saw a big bomb like this. I see 20 people die - bodies on the ground," Mr Pouitou told smh.com.au.

"I never come back here [to Egypt] again. What I see here today, enough for me all my life. A lot of people get hurt, a lot of European people and Americans get hurt here. I saw a couple tourists die. All the people get panic and don't know what to do."

Another backpacker, South African Stephen Murphy, was in his hotel room when he heard the explosions.

"The first explosion went off and then maybe about five seconds later the second one and then about another two seconds later a third one went off," the 35-year-old from Johannesburg said.

'I knew it was very close'

"I knew that it was very close and my eyes were closed throughout the explosion because it was really loud. It felt like it was right outside the door."

He thought the bangs must have been exploding gas bottles at nearby restaurants but when he looked outside he could see tourists running away from two plumes of smoke.

"There were people screaming and running away from the promenade which is where all the restaurants are. I just grabbed my bag, opened the door and I could see the two plumes of smoke from two of the explosions."

"People were just screaming. There were people crying. Some people had blood stained on their clothes."

"I was actually quite worried because it was just pandemonium. The Egyptians were screaming at each other as well and that just made people panic as well."

He vowed to stay in Egypt as a protest against the terrorists.

"I think terrorists want people to leave and I don't think I'm going to be going anywhere."

One day after bin Laden tape

No one immediately claimed credit for the attacks, which came one day after a new audiotape of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden surfaced accusing the "crusaders" of the West of waging war against Islam, referring to the conflict in Darfur and the isolation of the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

Medical staff at Dahab hospital were in the process of identifying more of the victims before sending them to the nearest morgue in Sharm el-Sheikh at the tip of the Sinai.

"There was blood everywhere but the victims were evacuated very quickly," said Cecile Casey, a young French tourist who was spending a few days in Dahab.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak pledged the perpetrators of the "wicked terrorist act" would be punished, while world leaders united in condemning the bombings, with US President George W Bush branding them a "heinous act".

Israeli prime minister-designate Ehud Olmert also sent his condolences to Mubarak and his office said the two leaders discussed "the need for cooperation between the two countries in the fight against international terrorism".

Liz Cush, of Sydney, told smh.com.au she was in Dahab on an Easter break from teaching English at a school in Cairo.

The 27-year-old from Newtown was eating with friends in a restaurant when she heard a chain of  "massive explosions''.

"We were 150 metres away when the bombs went off at a restaurant just around the corner,'' she said.

"There were three explosions - we could see everyone running, not even screaming.

'They were massive explosions'

"They were massive explosions - I only heard two, I don't know why, but they came one after another, all very close together.

"I didn't really know what was happening - I started to hide behind a chair.

"I stayed in the restaurant for a couple of minutes and then we went out the back of the restaurant and then out the back of town in a desert area.''

She said she and her friends stayed out on the outskirts of Dahab for an hour before venturing back into town.

"I went back and walked through town - there was blood on the ground and glass and rubble everywhere,'' she said.

"Someone who works in a dive shop said police had arrested all the Egyptian people who worked there.

"It's like in Sharm el-Sheikh - all the Egyptian people are being treated as suspects.''

"It's really quiet here now, it's empty - the locals are really shocked and the tourists are all on their hotels.''

- with David Braithwaite, Jordan Chong and agencies
FROM: http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/i-saw-people-without-heads/2006/04/25/1145861316035.html