Egypt hunts Pakistanis over bombs

July 25th, 2005  

Topic: Egypt hunts Pakistanis over bombs


Source:BBC News

Egyptian police are searching for six Pakistani nationals in connection with the triple bombing at Sharm al-Sheikh.

They have distributed photographs of the six, who were said to be staying at the resort at the time of the attacks.

The confirmed death toll stands at 64, although hospital officials say the figure could be as high as 88.

Police have questioned more than 70 people over the bombings, while investigators pursue links with an attack on tourists in Sinai last year.

The six missing Pakistanis were staying at a hotel in Sharm al-Sheikh and had left their passports at the reception, police said.

It is not clear which hotel the men were staying at, but it was not the Ghazala Gardens hotel in Naama Bay, which was rammed by a suicide car bomber.

Correspondents say the involvement of Pakistanis would be unprecedented; foreign nationals have rarely been linked to a series of attacks on tourists in Egypt since 1992.

DNA tests

Investigators have been trying to determine whether the bombers had helped stage the attacks in the nearby Red Sea resort of Taba last October.

DNA samples are being compared with those of detained suspects to establish any possible connections.

Investigators have said there were two car bombs - the one outside the Ghazala Gardens and another in the Old Market area. A third bomb, set off in a parking area near the hotel, had been placed inside a suitcase.

Click here to see a map of the attacks

Security officials told the Associated Press news agency that three attackers escaped before the blasts - one man who planted the suitcase bomb and two others who left the car bomb in the Old Market.

Most of those who died were Egyptian, although at least eight foreigners were killed.

Various reports say they include people of Turkish, British, Czech, Netherlands, Russian and Ukrainian nationality. One Israeli Arab is also thought to be among the dead.

The attack in the Old Market killed 17 Egyptians who were at a street cafe, officials said.

Peace march

In Sharm al-Sheikh, known in Egypt as the "City of Peace", hundreds of people marched through the Naama Bay area on Sunday evening in protest at the attacks.

They marched past the wreckage of the four-star Ghazala Gardens hotel, which is concealed behind a high, white tarpaulin.

Hotel workers, diving instructors and other local employees joined the march, lighting candles as night fell. They chanted slogans in support of peace and held banners which read "No to terrorism".

The BBC's Heba Saleh in Sharm al-Sheikh says the event was intended to send the message that the resort remains a welcoming place, but there was no mistaking the strength of the feelings expressed.

Two Islamist groups, one asserting links to al-Qaeda, have made unverified claims of responsibility for the attacks.

October's bombings killed 34 people, including many Israelis. It was seen as an offshoot of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and blamed by Egypt on disaffected Palestinians and local Bedouins.

The previous worst attack in Egypt was in 1997, when Islamic militants killed 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians near the southern city of Luxor. The tourism industry - Egypt's most lucrative - has slowly recovered since that attack, but there are widespread fears that these latest bombings will deal it a fresh blow.