Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
Blasts rock Sinai
Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
At least 65 people have been killed
Photo: Reuters
Photo: AP
Evacuating the wounded
Photo: AP
Photo: AP
Naama Bay (Archive)
Photo: AP

Scores killed in Sinai blasts

(VIDEO) Series of explosions rocks Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh in Sinai Peninsula early Saturday. At least three car bombs target tourist hotels, Bazaar, about 200 people wounded in terror offensive, officials say

SHARM EL-SHEIKH - (VIDEO) Terrorists strike in Egypt: At least 83 people were killed and about 200 were wounded after a series of explosions rocked the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh and hotels at nearby Naama Bay early Saturday, local officials said.


One Arab Israeli woman was lightly injured in the attack.


Video footage from the site of the attacks (Reuters):



Three car bombs exploded - one at the entrance to Naama Bay, another outside the Ghazala Gardens Hotel nearby and a third at Sharm's old market. 


A group citing ties to al Qaeda - The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, al Qaeda, in Syria and Egypt - claimed responsibility for the explosion in a statement posted on an Islamic web site.


"Your brothers, the holy warriors of the martyr Abdullah Azzam Brigades succeeded in launching a smashing attack on the Crusaders, Zionists and the renegade Egyptian regime in Sharm el-Sheikh," the statement said. "We reaffirm that this operation was in response to the crimes committed by the forces of international evil, which are spilling the blood of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya."


It is one of two extremist groups that also claimed responsibility for bombings last October at the Egyptian resorts of Taba and Ras Hasatan that killed 34.


The authenticity of the statement could not be immediately verified.


28 foreigners injured 


The Israeli Foreign Ministry opened a situation room and received phone calls from hundreds of concerned Israelis. The emergency phone number is: 972-2-530-3155.


In addition, the Israeli embassy in Cairo sent a team to Sharm el-Sheikh in order to find out whether any Israelis were hurt in Saturday’s blasts.


Reuters reported earlier that 28 foreigners were among those wounded, including 13 Italians, five Britons, three Spaniards, three Saudis, a Ukrainian, a Russian, a Turk and an Israeli. 



Explosions rocked a popular tourist destination   (Photo: Reuters) 




Many of those wounded suffered critical injuries in the blasts, a local doctor who declined to be named said.


Police officials said earlier that at least four car bombs exploded in the area, while news agencies reported there may have been as many as seven blasts, three in Naama Bay and four in the Sharm market.


The blasts shook windows, and smoke and fire were visible rising from Sharm's Naama Bay, a main strip of beach hotels, witnesses said. At one point, Egyptian rescue forces were having trouble reaching the Sharm el-Sheikh area, al-Jazeera reported.


Egyptian officials refused an IDF Home Front Command offer to assist in the rescue operation in Sinai following Saturday’s blasts, the army said.


Following the attacks, Israeli officials closed the Taba crossing, preventing Israelis from heading to Sinai. The crossing was later reopened for a short time, before it was closed again.


However, at least one bus, carrying a group of 50 Arab-Israelis, was waiting for permission to enter Egypt. About 10,000 are currently in Sinai, according to figures provides by officials at the Taba crossing


Market packed with Israelis?


Nazareth resident Kamal Muhammad Abu Ahmed told Ynet he was in his hotel room with his family when he heard a huge blast followed by another one.


“I went out to the street to see what happened there. It’s difficult for me to describe what I saw there…people crying, people on the floor, blood. I can’t describe it,” he said. “Large police forces arrived at the scene of the blasts. Many people went out to the street.”


A British eyewitness said one of the markets hit in the attack was packed with tourists from Europe, Israel, Jordan and Egypt.


"I have never been so scared in the whole of my life," tourist Samantha Hardcastle told BBC television from Naama Bay, which has dozens of luxury hotels popular with divers and holidaymakers from Europe.


"The explosion we felt was very violent and the hotel we are staying in shook. We saw lots of smoke and there were sirens. It was absolutely horrific," she said.


Locals said that despite the late hour, the bazaars would have been busy with holidaymakers at this time of year because the daytime is so hot.


Shaken tourists spoke of mass panic and hysteria as people fled bomb after bomb, with bodies strewn across the roads.


The rescue official, who asked not to be named, said many wounded were Egyptian workers who had gathered at a cafe in the old market.


The official said 17 of the dead were burnt beyond recognition by the explosions.


'Hotel completely burned down'


A police source said one car bomb exploded near the Sharm el-Sheikh bazaar, and three in Naama Bay, at a tourist bazaar, the Ghazala Hotel and the Moevenpick Hotel.


Eyewitnesses said the explosion at the Ghazala devastated the resort.  


"The hotel was completely burned down, destroyed," said Amal Mustafa, 28, an Egyptian who was visiting Sharm with her family and who drove by the Ghazala Gardens.


Khaled Sakran, a Sharm resident, said he saw the first blast from the Old Market. "I saw the fire in the sky," he said. "Right after, I saw a light in the sky and heard another explosion, coming from Naama Bay."


Notably, Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau renewed its Sinai terror warning at the beginning of June. According to the alert, “recently a concrete possibly has emerged that terror elements would attempt to target destinations in Egypt, with an emphasis on Sinai.”


-Diana Bahur-Nir, Seya Egozy, AP, and Reuters also contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 07.23.05, 02:13
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