WORLD / Africa

3 arrested in Egyptian resort bombings
Updated: 2006-04-25 19:28

Police arrested three people Tuesday in the triple bomb attack that ripped apart a Sinai beach resort promenade at the height of Egypt's tourist season, killing at least 24 people and injuring more than 60, many of them foreigners.

A tourist holds her son as they walk past a damaged store at one of the sites of the bombings at the Sinai seaside city of Dahab, Egypt, early Tuesday, April 25, 2006. Shards of glass and bloody body parts littered the ground Tuesday as Egypt reeled from a three-bomb attack that ripped apart a Sinai beach resort promenade at the height of Egypt's tourist season, killing at least 24 people, including a German child. More than 60 others were hurt. [AP]

The arrests took place near the scene of Monday's bloody attack in the town of Dahab, but police did not immediately provide any further information, including whether the suspects were locals, or had connections with international terror groups.

The nearly simultaneous blasts were so powerful they blew out storefronts along the crowded promenade of shops, restaurants and bars and sent body parts flying into the nearby Gulf of Aqaba. Hours after the bombings, shards of glass lay in piles along with white tiles stained with bloody footprints.

The explosions came a day after Osama bin Laden issued a call to arms to Muslims to support al-Qaida in fighting what he calls a war against Islam.

It was also the third terror strike on a Sinai resort in less than two years to coincide with a national holiday in Egypt.

Hotels and guesthouses were filled with foreigners and with Egyptians celebrating the long Coptic Christian Easter weekend that coincided this year with Shem al-Nessim, the ancient holiday marking the first day of spring. The attacks also came a day before Sinai Liberation Day, a national holiday marking the return of the peninsula to Egypt from Israel as a result of the 1979 peace treaty.

The bombings hit Dahab at 7:15 p.m. when the streets were jammed with tourists strolling, shopping or looking for a restaurant or bar for evening festivities by the tranquil waters.

One of the bombs exploded outside a seaside restaurant called Al Capone, a popular dinner spot. A second bomb went off outside a supermarket and jewelry store. The third detonated at the entrance to a bridge.

Security forces were searching the wreckage for clues. It was not immediately known if the explosions were caused by suicide bombers or bombs on timers.

Outside the supermarket that was targeted, a tiny shoe covered in blood lay on top of a baby stroller. Moments before the attack, a woman who appeared to be European carried one of her twin infants into the store and left the other outside in the stroller, said Mohammed Emad, 16, who sells spices at the market.

The baby outside survived, but the other twin died and the mother was severely injured, Emad said. "I pushed the stroller away out of the doorway" after the blast, he said.

Another witness said tourists didn't know where to run as the blasts kept coming.

"I heard the first bomb, I started running. When I heard the second one, we were still running," said Johanna Sarjas, a journalist from Finland who was on vacation. "It was chaotic because we didn't know in which direction to run. You didn't know where the next bomb would come from."
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