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Egyptian resorts hit by triple blast

The latest attack is the third in the region in less than two years Keystone

At least 23 people, among them one Swiss national, have been killed in three explosions in the Egyptian resort of Dahab.

This content was published on April 25, 2006 - 06:49

Egyptian officials said more than 60 people, including another Swiss, were injured in the blasts in the popular tourist town on Monday evening.

This is the third attack in the region in the past 18 months.

"The Egyptian authorities have confirmed to us that among the dead is one Swiss victim," said Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Lars Knuchel.

He said the injured Swiss woman was currently in hospital. The 35-year-old Zurich resident is due to be flown back to Switzerland later on Tuesday.

The ministry was in constant contact with the Egyptian authorities, added Knuchel. It is not, however, advising Swiss citizens to avoid Egypt.

According to the latest official numbers from Egypt, 23 people have died and at least 60 people were injured in the attacks.

Swiss travel company Kuoni said on Swiss public radio that it had 29 Swiss holidaymakers in the resort at the time.

Swiss travel insurance Elvia said that after being in contact with major travel companies, it estimated that between 60 and 70 Swiss were staying at Dahab.

Egyptian officials said 20 Egyptians and three foreigners were killed. A further 62 people of several nationalities were estimated to have been injured.

The three almost simultaneous bombings - the third strike on a Sinai resort in less than two years - came in the early evening as the streets were filled with vacationers and Egyptians enjoying a long weekend marking a national holiday.

Around 60 people were killed in Sharm el-Sheikh last July and 34 people died in an attack on the Hilton hotel at the Red Sea resort of Taba in 2004.

Monday's blasts, which blew out windows along a crowded promenade of shops, restaurants and bars, were swiftly condemned.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called the explosions a "wicked terrorist act", and President Bush described it as "heinous".

Surprise

Speaking from the Egyptian capital, Cairo, military expert Mohamed Abdel Salam told swissinfo that he was very surprised by the attacks.

"No-one thought there would be another large operation in this region," said Abdel Salam, from the Egyptian Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

"It was thought that the Egyptian security forces were in control of the situation. It's a very hard blow for Egypt, especially for the tourist sector which recovered very quickly from the other attacks."

As yet, no-one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, but some observers suspect al-Qaida involvement.

But Abdel Salam says that it is more likely to be an Egyptian group, based in the Sinai region. This group is thought to be implicated in the previous attacks in the area.

"In this case I think everything starts and finishes in Egypt," he said. "Even if there is always an external dimension to every terror act, wherever it is in the world."

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

November 17, 1997: 62 tourists, including 36 Swiss, were killed in an gun attack in Luxor, Egypt. Six of the attackers were killed by the security forces.

October 7, 2004: a series of blasts at resorts on the Red Sea leaves 34 dead. Most of the victims are in the Hilton Hotel in Taba. No Swiss were affected.

On July 23, 2005: explosions in Sharm el-Sheikh, also on the Red Sea, killed 64 people and injured more than 200, among them many foreigners. Around 1,000 Swiss were in the resort but there were no victims.

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