Bombings Kill 23 in Egyptian Resort City

The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 25, 2006; 2:13 AM

DAHAB, Egypt -- Three nearly simultaneous bombings hit this Egyptian beach resort popular with foreigners Monday, killing at least 23 people on streets filled with vacationers and Egyptians enjoying a long weekend marking a national holiday.

The early evening bombings in the Sinai seaside city of Dahab blew out storefronts along a crowded promenade of shops, restaurants and bars. Hours after the bombings, shards of glass lay in piles along with white tiles stained with bloody footprints.

Interior Minister Habib el-Adly said those killed included 20 Egyptians and three foreigners. Sixty-two people were wounded, many of them Westerners.

The explosions came a day after Osama bin Laden issued a call to arms to Muslims to support al-Qaida in fighting what he calls a war against Islam.

The bombings _ the third terror strike on a Sinai resort in less than two years _ hit Dahab at 7:15 p.m. when the streets were jammed with tourists strolling, shopping or looking for a restaurant or bar for evening festivities by the tranquil waters of the Gulf of Aqaba.

The first bomb exploded outside a seaside restaurant called Al Capone, one of the area's most popular spots. The second bomb went off outside a supermarket and the Mona Lisa jewelry store. The third detonated at the entrance of a bridge where tourists take strolls next to the sea.

Mohammed Gadallah, who works at a hotel coffee shop near the bridge bomb, said he initially thought a power cable had blown up. After the explosion, he ran outside and carried a Russian boy to safety.

"The scene out there was horrific," the 27-year-old said. "Blood was everywhere. People's limbs were blown off. I don't know who could have done this _ they are people who know no religion and have no conscious."

Hani Sadeq, 24, who worked at the Mona Lisa store, said: "We ran toward the scene and we found people, our friends, lying on the ground. some were already dead. Some were alive, with arms broken. We took them to the hospital."

Looking up at a shrapnel-scarred hotel, he added, "Dahab is dead now."

Hotels and guesthouses were filled with foreigners and with Egyptians celebrating the long Coptic Christian Easter weekend that coincided this year with Shem al-Nessim, the ancient holiday marking the first day of spring. The attacks also came a day before Sinai Liberation Day, a national holiday marking the return of the peninsula to Egypt from Israel as a result of the 1979 peace treaty.

Dahab, which means "gold" in Arabic, was for years a popular, low-key haven for young Western and Israeli backpackers drawn by prime scuba diving and cheap hotels, which mainly consisted of huts set up along the beach. In recent years, a number of more upscale hotels have been built, including a five-star Hilton resort.

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