DAHAB, Egypt: Ten people have been arrested in connection with three powerful explosions that rocked the Red Sea resort town of Dahab as vacationers wrapped up a long holiday break. The consecutive blasts were all within 200 feet of one another and left some 24 people dead and at least 150 injured, according to the Ministry of Interior.
Police did not immediately provide any further information regarding the suspects in question. Hundreds of locals marched down the promenade in the Tuesday afternoon heat carrying banners condemning terrorism and chanting praises to God. “We love peace; we love tourists they called out, as the remaining sunbathers watched along the sidelines. President Hosni Mubarak condemned the attack, calling it a “sinful terrorist action. The remote-controlled bombs detonated shortly after 7 pm Monday, on the ancient spring festival of Shamm El-Nessim, as many tourists were setting out for dinner. The 1-2-3 blasts first tore through the Lantern Restaurant and then the Caponi Restaurant, separated by a small foot bridge over the beach. The third occurred further down the way at the Madonna Bazaar, causing total destruction to a number of shops around it. Twenty-one Egyptians and three foreigners were among those killed in the blasts. “People were really confused at first, running out into the street to see what had happened, recalls Farid Tadros, a weekend vacationer. “There was definitely a police presence. Hotels basically worked to calm down tourists and get things organized. This latest incident is the third deadly attack targeting Sinai resort towns in less than a year and a half. Last July, more than 60 people were killed when three consecutive bombs ravaged a hotel, market and parking garage in Sharm El-Sheikh in what was the deadliest attack ever on Egyptian soil. In October 2004, a bomb brought down an entire wing of the Hilton Hotel at the Egyptian-Israeli border town of Taba leaving 34 people dead, mostly Israeli tourists. “The situation [in Dahab] is a bit difficult because there are a lot of backpackers so people don’t know where they are or where they’re staying, said Britain’s ambassador to Egypt Sir Derek Plumbly. Egyptian security forces have arrested hundreds of Sinai Bedouins in an attempt to cap extremist movements believed to be flourishing between the mountains of the Sinai Peninsula. Two groups claimed responsibility following the Sharm El-Sheikh blasts; the Abdullah Azzam Brigades of Al-Qaeda and the Egypt-based Holy Warriors. The Holy Warriors has released a statement condemning the latest attack in Dahab. Officials say Bedouins have provided an outlet for terrorist organizations abroad looking to strike at Egypt. Local Bedouins staunchly deny these accusations; saying attacks on Sinai impacts their livelihood just as drastically as it does the local residents. “The government doesn’t realize how important tourism is to the Bedouins, explains Jumaa Murdi, a member of the Mazena Bedouin Tribe, the largest in South Sinai. “Right now, anyone can get to Dahab through the mountains. They think the Bedouins are responsible, actually, they need the Bedouins to stop this. “People think that the Bedouins are nothing but drug dealers, says Salah Moussa, a hotel owner and member of the Mazena Tribe. “They focus on little issues and miss the big problems. The blasts occurred merely one day after Osama Bin Laden’s latest video release threatened attacks against Westerners. Egyptian authorities do not believe the Al-Qaeda leader’s message is linked to Monday’s bombings, although the U.S. government has not entirely ruled it out. “We love everyone, we love everyone, chanted local Egyptians as journalists swarmed the scene and storekeepers accessed the damage. A number of diving instructors spent the morning searching for body parts catapulted into the sea by the blasts’ intensity. Wearing latex gloves, the group of six spent much of the morning face down, occasionally emerging with a black bag which they handed off to police. Meanwhile, several victims were immediately rushed to Dahab Hospital, many with the help of local townspeople. Locals report that the hospital was poorly equipped to deal with the volume of patients, redirecting many of them to Sharm El-Sheikh for treatment. “We had to work our way through the crowd to give blood, a lot of locals were refused for whatever reason, recalls Alex Ibrahim, an employee at a Dahab diving school. “We couldn’t even give blood. They told us we had to go to Sharm. Meantime, there were kids laying around bleeding, mothers screaming; it was a nightmare.