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Authorities sweep Sinai in bombing probe

Attacks may be tied to October strike in another Red Sea resort




Terror attacks

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (CNN) -- Egyptian security forces on Sunday were sweeping the Sinai peninsula and rounding up Bedouins as part of their investigation into three bombings that killed 84 people and wounded more than 200 in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The cleanup continued, meanwhile, from suicide car bomb blasts at the Ghazala Garden Hotel and the city's Old Market, as well as an explosive device that detonated at a beachfront parking lot and shuttle stop frequented by tourists.

The blasts all occurred at about 1:15 a.m. Saturday -- an Egyptian national holiday commemorating the 1952 bloodless revolution which brought a group of army officers to power after deposing King Farouk.

Sixty of those who died were Egyptians, and at least eight were foreigners, including an Italian man on his honeymoon, a tourist from the Czech Republic, two from Britain and one American.

Although the city's airport was crowded and traffic on the roads was heavy as tourists left the county late Saturday and Sunday, more busloads of tourists were arriving, CNN's John Vause reported. Egyptian officials are worried the bombings could harm the country's $6 billion tourism industry.

Two groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks -- the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, in a statement posted on an Islamic Web site, and another from a group called the Holy Warriors of Egypt, who faxed statements to news outlets. CNN could not authenticate either of those claims.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, however, are believed to be behind last year's October attack on the Taba Hilton and nearby camping ground.

The series of bombs killed 34 people, and one suspect from those bombings is still sought by authorities. (Full story)

Egypt's interior minister said Saturday the Taba bombings and the Sharm el-Sheikh bombings could be linked.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who toured the area Saturday to survey the damage and visited some of the victims, said in a national address Saturday night that the incident will only strengthen Egypt's determination to fight terrorism.

Mubarak said the attacks will embolden Egypt's effort to fight terror.

"Terrorism is still approaching us from time to time with its ugly face," he said. "It is a blind terrorism which is expanding all over the world, terrorizing people and targeting them everywhere."

The three blasts are believed to have been two suicide car bombs and a planted bomb. It was Egypt's deadliest bombing in recent years.

One suicide car bomb killed 17 Egyptian workers in a coffee shop at the city's Old Market, authorities said. The other suicide car bomber struck the Ghazala Garden Hotel, speeding past a security checkpoint and ramming the hotel's reception area before exploding.

The hotel lobby area collapsed, along with its roof. Video footage showed the Old Market area littered with broken glass and debris.

The third bombing -- an explosive device left in a bag -- killed six tourists at a beachfront parking lot and shuttle stop frequented by tourists, about two miles from the hotel.

Witness felt building tremble

An employee at the Ghazala Hotel said she heard a huge explosion and felt the building tremble. Guests were being transferred to other hotels, and police cordoned off the area, she said. (Full story)

Video from Nile TV showed men at one site carrying body bags to emergency vehicles, and other bodies lying amid debris on bloody ground, covered by sheets or blankets.

"We are trying to comfort those touched by those explosions," el-Maghrabi said. "These groups, those criminal groups, will never be able to steal the right of people to move and travel. This is very unfortunate."

One husband and wife were awakened by the blasts.

"My wife and I were asleep and, basically, I just woke up because our house is made out of glass doors, and simply the glass started shaking really hard," said Ahmed Mansour, who lives in Sharm el-Sheikh, 7 kilometers (4 miles) from Naama Bay.

"I personally just thought it was an earthquake. ... Fifteen minutes later, I started to get phone calls from, basically, people asking us if we were all right," Mansour said.

Egypt had been operating under heightened security in recent days, Interior Minister al-Adli said, because of the bomb attacks in London.

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