གཟའ་ལྷག་པ། ༢༠༢༤/༠༥/༢༩

Death Toll In Sinai Bombings Reaches 22 - 2004-10-09

The death toll from car bombs that hit three Egyptian Red Sea resorts filled with vacationing Israelis now stands at 22 with more than 100 injured. Authorities expect the figure to rise. The largest blast brought down a 10-story section of the luxury Taba Hilton Hotel, which sits just meters away from the border with Israel. Shortly afterward, explosions also rocked the resort areas of Nuweiba and Ras al Shitan, further south on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

A large section of the western side of the Hilton hotel collapsed. Rescue workers described the scene, which one of them said looked like a battle zone. In some cases, hotel guests tied sheets together, as they tried to escape from areas of the hotel where the stairwells had collapsed.

Three previously unknown Islamic groups claimed responsibility for the attacks. Tawhid Islamic Brigades published a claim on a Web site that has been used frequently for such claims from Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Jamaa Al-Islamiya Al-Alamiya, or World Islamist Group, also claimed it was behind the attack, as did a third group, calling itself Brigades of the Martyr Abdullah Azzam, al-Qaida, in the Levant, Egypt. None of the claims have been confirmed.

Israel's deputy defense minister said Friday that Palestinian militants apparently were not involved in the deadly car bombings in the two Egyptian resorts, crowded with Israeli tourists. Zeev Boim, said he suspects a group connected with al-Qaida was behind the attack, but had very little further information.

Thursday was the last day of the Jewish festival of Sukkot. Taba and other resorts in the Sinai have been packed with Israeli tourists. More than 30,000 Israelis were estimated to have been vacationing in that part of Egypt at the time of the attack. The Israeli government says it has plans to evacuate up to 15,000 Israelis still in the Sinai.