གཟའ་པ་སངས། ༢༠༢༤/༠༥/༢༤

Italian Tourists Return from Egyptian Resort After Bombing

Italians injured in the terror attacks at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh have returned home. Dozens of others have decided to cut short their holidays in Egypt, and many others canceled or changed their plans. And in his weekly sermon, the pope condemned the attacks.

The Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh is a popular destination for Italian tourists. The Foreign Ministry said there were about 30,000 Italians in the area at the time of the three bombings early Saturday. Many have decided to cut their holidays short.

They say it is impossible to stay and enjoy a vacation after seeing such death and destruction. At least 88 people were killed and 200 injured in the explosions that tore through the resort's shopping and hotel area.

After the attack, a large number of flights from Italian cities to Egypt were canceled. Some holiday-goers said they were planning to cancel their trips altogether. Others said they would change their destinations.

One Italian was killed in the explosions, and at least three are missing. Among the 28 Italians injured were eight children. They have been repatriated on a C-130 military plane. When they arrived at Rome's military airport, they appeared still in shock, but relieved to be alive and home.

Their thoughts were confused, but they try to describe what they saw.

A man said: "I know only that we saw complete darkness, intense smoke, a smell of gunpowder, of dynamite, the room became black."

Others spoke of broken glass, of blood everywhere, of dead people. Most of them have not slept for two days. They said it is a miracle they are still alive.

Egypt's interior minister says the attacks at Sharm may be linked to another multiple-bomb attack last October that killed 34 people in another Sinai resort, Taba.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the attacks marked an intensification of Islamist terror, and pledged that his government's new security package would keep Italy safe. Italy stepped up its anti-terrorism measures after the multiple bombings in London earlier this month.

Pope Benedict deplored the recent series of attacks, saying they offend God and man.

"We invoke the Almighty to stop the murderous hand of those who, driven by fanaticism and hatred, commit such acts, and ask him to convert their hearts and minds to reconciliation and peace," he said.

The pope added that he was shocked by the tragic news of the abhorrent terrorist attacks that have caused death, destruction and suffering in countries including Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Britain.