Jordan stepped up security at its own vacation sites after the attacks, which occurred before dawn on Saturday at the Egyptian resort, teeming with thousands of sun-seeking Europeans, Japanese and other nationalities.

Other nations, mindful of the recent attacks against public transport facilities in London, expressed their commitment to the battle against terrorism.

Rice statement

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and innocent victims from many nations who suffered in this senseless attack," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement released by the American consulate in Jerusalem.

Tantawi described the attacks
as ugly and cowardly

"At this difficult time of testing, the United States stands with our friend and ally Egypt," said Rice, who was visiting Palestinian officials on Saturday in the West Bank.

"Together we will confront and defeat this scourge that knows no boundary and respects no creed."

Pope Benedict XVI described the attacks as "senseless acts" and appealed to terrorists to renounce violence.

Not martyrs

Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar Mosque, the Sunni Muslim world's most prestigious seat of learning, said the attackers cannot be considered martyrs.

"This goes against religion and is from the works of the devil," Tantawi told Egyptian television. "The culprits carried out an ugly, cowardly act that constitutes the epitome of sabotage and criminality." 

The Palestinian Islamic resistance group Hamas strongly condemned the bombings, calling them a "crime against Islam and Muslims".
 
Hamas' spokesman in the West Bank, Hasan Yousuf, told Aljazeera.net that "this blind and indiscriminate terror against innocent civilians, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, is a manifestly criminal act which we reject without any hesitation".
 
Yousuf said "these horrible crimes and acts of terror constitute a serious deviation from Islam.'