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Tourists return home from Sharm el-Sheikh

Emotions ran high as the tourists arrived at Zurich airport

(Keystone)

A special flight carrying 293 Swiss tourists landed in Zurich on Sunday morning after the terror attacks in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The series of explosions on Saturday in the Red Sea city provoked worldwide outrage. Governments and religious leaders strongly condemned the attacks which left at least 88 people dead and more than 100 injured.

There have been no reports of Swiss casualties among the more than 1,000 tourists from Switzerland who were on holiday in Sharm el-Sheikh when the attacks took place.

On Sunday an Airbus belonging to the Edelweiss charter airline brought back holidaymakers who had gone to the Red Sea city with tour operators Kuoni, Hotelplan and TUI.

After landing at Zurich airport, many expressed their relief at being back home.

A second flight for tourists from Switzerland was cancelled because the first had not been filled.

Al-Qaeda?

A group linked to the terror organisation al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the bombings.

The Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, expressed her "revolt" at the attacks which killed "totally innocent women, children and men".

She told Swiss radio that the causes of terrorism had to be analysed because a military response was not enough to thwart the terrorist threat.

Her ministry earlier strongly condemned the "barbaric" attack and advised people not to travel via Sharm el-Sheikh on to the Sinai Peninsula.

In a statement, the ministry offered its condolences to the families and friends of the victims, and to the government and people of Egypt.

It added that it hoped that everything possible would be done to bring the perpetrators to justice.

A care team from the Elvia holiday insurance firm is now in Sharm el-Sheikh to assess what can be done to help the remaining Swiss tourists.

Mubarak pledge

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has vowed to hunt down those responsible for the attacks. The victims were mainly Egyptian nationals.

It was the worst ever attack on tourist targets in Egypt. Militant Islamists trying to bring down the government killed 58 tourists and four Egyptians at an ancient temple near Luxor in 1997.

The regional governor said two car bombs and possibly a suitcase bomb had rocked the resort that is popular with divers.

The bombs had an immediate impact on tourism as European travellers cancelled trips to the popular destination.

Egyptians and foreigners in the tourism industry, the country's biggest private-sector employer, said it could take longer to recover than it did from the Luxor massacre.

"It is what we always feared," said Eveline Bracher, a Swiss who has worked in the Sharm el-Sheikh diving industry for the past 13 years.

"We always had the impression that Sharm el-Sheikh was a secure place. But we have been proved wrong."

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Tour operators' hotline:
044 283 39 99
Hotline of the Swiss foreign ministry:
031 324 98 08

end of infobox

In brief

A group of Islamic extremists opened fire on a group of tourists near Luxor on November 17, 1997, killing 62 people, including 36 Swiss.

Swiss tourists avoided Egypt as a holiday destination for several years after the attack.

The last serious attack was on October 7 last year against the Hilton hotel in Taba, also on the Sinai peninsula, in which 34 people were killed.

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