83 Die in Car Bombs at Egyptian Resort
Jul 23, 8:18 AM (ET)
By SARAH EL DEEB
SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt (AP) - A rapid series of car bombs and another blast ripped through a luxury hotel and a coffeeshop in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik early Saturday, killing at least 83, a hospital official said. Terrified European and Arab tourists fled into the night, and rescue workers said the death toll could still rise.
The attack, Egypt's deadliest terror hit ever, appeared well coordinated. Two car bombs, possibly by suicide attackers, went off simultaneously at 1:15 a.m. just more than 2 miles apart. A third bomb, believed hidden in a sack, detonated around the same time near a beachside walkway where tourists often stroll at night.
A total of 83 people had been confirmed dead, said Dr. Saeed Abdel Fattah, manager of the Sharm el-Sheik International Hospital where the victims were taken. Among the dead were two Britons, two Germans and an Italian, he added, and Czech officials said one Czech tourist was also killed. Rescue workers were still searching for victims at some attack scenes.
Several hours after the attacks, a group citing ties to al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the explosion on an Islamic web site. The group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, al-Qaida, in Syria and Egypt, was one of two extremist groups that also claimed responsibility for October bombings at the Egyptian resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan that killed 34. The group also claimed responsbility for a Cairo bombing in late April.
(AP) Sharm el-Sheik old market is seen through the broken glass window of a damaged car following an...
The authenticity of the statement could not be immediately verified.
But a top Egyptian official said there are some indications the latest bombings were linked to last fall's Taba explosions.
"We have some clues, especially about the car that was exploded in the Old Market, and investigators are pursuing," said Interior Minister Habib al-Adli. He called it "an ugly act of terrorism."
The United States, Israel and European and Middle Eastern countries condemned the attacks, and neighboring Jordan said it was immediately tightening security at its tourist sites.
Pope Benedict XVI deplored the attacks, calling them "senseless acts," and appealed to terrorists to renounce violence.
(AP) Debris seen in the old market following an explosion in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik...
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak flew into Sharm el-Sheik and went directly to inspect the scene at the Ghazala hotel. Heavily armed security forces guarded Mubarak as he walked past the bomb-ravaged complex and spoke with officials.
In addition to the 83 known dead, at least 119 others were wounded, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said.
At least eight foreigners were among the dead, Al-Adli said. The dead included British, Dutch, Kuwaitis, Saudis and Qataris, one security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was giving information not yet included in the official statement.
Italy's Foreign Ministry said a 34-year-old Italian man, identified as Sebastiano Conti, was killed and 10 other Italians injured. A Czech tourist was also killed, said Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Vit Kolar.
"Terrorism has no nationality," Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazief told The Associated Press. "This is a terrorist act and .... can't be explained or justified."
(AP) Italian tourists leave Ghazala Gardens Hotel following an explosion in Egypt's Red Sea resort of...
The British Embassy said initial reports indicated up to eight Britons were wounded, while three Spaniards were also injured, according to Spanish officials.
The Sharm hospital official, Abdel Fattah, said 43 foreigners were wounded, including 13 Italians, nine Britons, five Austrians, five Germans, four Spaniards, a Czech, an Israeli Arab, two Saudis, two Kuwaitis and a Qatari national.
A senior U.S. official traveling with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said there were no reports of American casualties.
The death toll could rise, rescue workers said. The lobby of the 176-room Ghazala Gardens hotel in Sharm's Naamah Bay, the main strip of hotels, collapsed into a pancaked pile of concrete. After hours of clearing through piles of rubble and scrap metal, emergency workers called off rescue efforts, at least temporarily, there around midday.
David Stewart, a tourist from from Liverpool, England, was staying with his wife and two teen-aged daughters at the Ghazala Gardens when the explosion hit. The windows of his room were smashed, and he and his family ran.
(AP) Italian tourists gesture in front of the damaged Ghazala Gardens Hotel as they depart following...
"Somebody shouted, 'Keep moving,'" he told AP. "The lights were out. I couldn't tell what was happening."
His family, like many others, fled toward the back of the hotel to take refuge in a grassy lawn near the pool. There, hundreds spent the night, some lying on pool mattresses.
On the other side of Sharm in the Old Market, a second car bomb in a minibus parking lot sent a ball of flaming wreckage shooting over a nearby beach and into the sea and littered the sand with body parts. Overturned chairs, broken waterpipes and pools of blood were scattered around the ravaged coffeeshop nearby, frequented by Egyptians who work in the resorts.
"The country's going to come to a stop. That's it!" sobbed Samir al-Mitwalli, who arrived in Sharm only a month ago to work as a driver. "Who's paying the price? ... Whoever did this wants to destroy the economy."
The string of attacks stunned a town that has long been dedicated to scuba diving at the famed coral reefs.
(AP) Egyptian volenteers carry a boby of one of the victims following an explosion in Egypt's Red Sea...
Sharm el-Sheik has expanded at a furious pace in recent years, making it a major player in Egypt's vital tourism industry, drawing Europeans, Israelis and Arabs from oil-producing Gulf nations. Mubarak has a residence where he spends the winter, and the town has been the host to multiple summits for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The attacks last fall in Taba ended a long halt in Egyptian militant violence. The last major attack had been in 1997, when Islamic militants killed 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians at the Pharaonic Temple of Hatshepsut outside Luxor in southern Egypt.
There were signs that the bombings were by suicide attackers. Witnesses at the coffeeshop reported the attack vehicle was moving when it blew up, and the governor of South Sinai, Mustafa Afifi, said the car in the Ghazala attack broke through security into the front driveway before exploding.
The Ghazala blast swept through the interior of the sprawling, low-built hotel, shattering windows and shredding metal. Blood splattered some of the walls.
The blast at Old Market tore through a coffeeshop on the side of a minibus lot, killing at least 17 Eygptians who were sitting there, said a security official in the operations control room in Cairo.
More than eight hours later, the overturned shell of a minibus was still smoldering, near a large crater in the asphalt.
"This is a security farce," said Omar Ezzideen, owner of a children's clothing store in a nearby mall whose windows were shattered. "How can something like this happen here? How could (explosives) enter here? The national economy is based on this."