Three car bombs went off in quick succession in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh early Saturday, killing at least 88 people, some of them European and Arab tourists and wounding over 150.
The powerful blasts started at 1:15 a.m. (local time) on the eve of Egypt's Independence Day.
The attack came nine months after simultaneous bombings hit two resort further north in Sinai, killing 34 people, many of them Isrealis.
One of the explosives-laden cars smashed through security into the front driveway of the Ghazala Gardens hotel and exploded, said South Sinai province's governor, Mustafa Afifi - suggesting it was a suicide bomber.
According to The AP, a second car bomb went off in a parking area near the Movenpick Hotel, also in Naama Bay, said a receptionist there.
The third detonated at a minibus parking lot in the Old Market, an area about 2 1/2 miles from where many Egyptians and others who work in the resorts live. The blast ripped through a nearby outdoor coffee shop, killing 17 people, believed to be Egyptians, said a security official in the operations control room in Cairo monitoring the crisis.
The dead in the Sharm blasts included British, Russian, Dutch, Kuwaitis, Saudis, Qataris and Egyptians, a security official said.
A group linked to al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombings on Saturday. The group, calling itself the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Syria and Egypt, made the claim in a statement posted on an Islamic Web site. It said its "holy warriors targeted the Ghazala Gardens hotel and the Old Market in Sharm el-Sheikh."
After visiting the sites of the explosions, Egyptian president, Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, delivered a televised message to his people, condemning terrorism and vowing to capture those behind the latest attacks.
"It is a blind terrorism that attacks the world around us and targets innocents everywhere." "This criminal and cowardly act was aimed at undermining the security and stability of Egypt and at harming her sons and guests. Yet, this act’s only achievement will be to increase our determination to pursue, contain and uproot terrorism," the Egyptian leader said.
International and Arab rejection
The international community was quick to respond to the Sharm El-Sheik bombings. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice condemned the bombings and said that the United States was ready to cooperate with Egypt in the fight against terrorism.
Pope Benedict XVI was among world political and religious leaders deploring the attacks, calling them "senseless acts." He appealed to terrorists to renounce violence.
The Japanese Press Secretary Hatsuhisa Takashima said that terrorism cannot be justified for any reason, and that the government of Japan condemns terrorist atrocities that victimize innocent people.
The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed its condemnation of the attacks and its hopes that the perpetrators would soon be arrested and tried.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan said that China was deeply shocked by these terrorist attacks and stressed his country’s rejection of all forms of terrorism. He said that these attacks demonstrate to the world that the campaign against terrorism is still a difficult, long and complicated mission.
The African Union President Alpha Oumar Konare, condemned the attacks and the loss of innocent life.
Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah condemned the bombings and denounced all terrorist attacks that "threaten the lives of innocents and contradict all human and religious values."
Deputy Prime Minsiter and Official Spokesman of the Jordanian Government Marwan Al-Mashar said Jordan strongly condemned this bloody act and expressed his hope that the terrorists behind the bombings would be quickly apprehended.
The president of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahayan condemned Saturday’s bombings and expressed confidence that Egypt’s government and people were capable of surmounting the aftermath of these terrorist attacks.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry expressed its condemnation of the bombings, its solidarity with Egypt and its condolences to the families and victims. In further statements the Ministry denounced all forms of terror and reiterated its support for measures adopted by Egypt to restore security and stability.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)