Three bombs ripped through Egypt's Red Sea resort of Dahab during a peak
holiday season, killing 23 people including foreigners and wounding scores more.
The almost simultaneous bombings, the
third attack against Sinai peninsula resorts in 18 months, drew condemnation
from world leaders and President Hosni Mubarak vowed to punish the perpetrators
of these "heinous acts of terrorism."
A shocked Egyptian woman is supported as she
is led away to safety after three explosions shook the Egyptian Sinai
resort of Dahab April 24, 2006. Three apparent bomb blasts ripped through
Egypt's Red Sea resort of Dahab on Monday, killing 23 people including
foreigners and wounding scores more.
The interior ministry said 20 Egyptians and three foreigners, including a
German baby, were among the dead. Security officials had earlier said a Swiss
national and a Russian were killed.
The bombs hit the Ghazala supermarket and the Nelson and Aladdin restaurants
in the busiest part of Dahab, a popular destination for divers and backpackers
whose name means gold in Arabic.
"Around 7 pm (1600 GMT), we heard three explosions close to the seafront
alongside a supermarket in the centre of Dahab," French tourist Frederic Mingeon
"There was a plume of smoke and people started running and screaming."
French, American, British, Italian, Arab and Israeli nationals were among the
injured, according to security sources.
State television said the blasts appeared to have been the result of
remote-controlled bombs, not suicide bombers.
Footage of the scene aired by Egyptian state television showed lumps of flesh
lying in pools of blood in front of the mangled remains of shopfronts in Dahab,
which lies on the southeast coast of the peninsula about 530 kilometres (330
miles) by road from Cairo.
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.
Dahab, which is popular with Western backpackers and budget Israeli tourists,
was also packed with Egyptians enjoying a public holiday.
The bombers struck on Sham el-Nessim, a traditional holiday which marks the
beginning of spring, and a day before Sinai Liberation Day which celebrates
Israel's withdrawal from the peninsula in 1982.
"The street was littered with debris and I could see pools of blood," added
Belgian tourist Quentin d'Aspremont.
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.
The resorts of Egypt's south Sinai peninsula have been repeatedly hit by
Multiple bombings in Sharm el-Sheikh killed about 70 people in July 2005, the
deadliest to have hit Egypt since a major wave of Islamist attacks in the
mid-1990s, many targeting foreigners.
At least 34 people were killed in several simultaneous attacks in and around
the resort of Taba further up the Red Sea coast near the Israeli border in
Four groups claimed the Sharm el-Sheikh bombings, including Al-Tawhid wal
Jihad, an Islamist movement which said the attacks were revenge for the
invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and out of allegiance to bin Laden.
US President George W. Bush branded the Dahab bombings a "heinous act."
"I strongly condemn the killings that took place, the innocent lives lost,"
Bush said. "I assure the enemy ... we will bring them to justice for the sake of
justice and humanity."
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw described the attacks as "appalling" and
added: "Once again terrorists have demonstrated their callous disregard for
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."
The streets of Dahab were immediately sealed off by police and Egyptian
security sources said the border with Israel, which lies only around 90 miles
north of Dahab, was closed to prevent the attackers from fleeing.
A state of alert was declared at the main hospital in the Israeli border town
of Eilat to handle any casualties sent for treatment there and to free up
doctors for dispatch to the scene.
In April last year, two French tourists and an American were also killed and
some 20 people wounded in a bomb attack in the Al-Azhar area of the Egyptian
Seven people were wounded in an attack later the same month in Cairo and two
women assailants were killed in a failed attack on a tourist bus.