The semi-official al-Ahram daily on Sunday said security forces were searching for others who assisted or helped plan the three attacks on 23 July.

   

"Police raided some of the hideouts and they found, in a farm in el Arish (north Sinai), about a tonne of high explosives and are comparing it to the substances used in the three attacks," the newspaper reported without giving a source.

   

Authorities suspect the Sharm al-Shaikh attacks and bombings last October in and around Taba, another Sinai resort town, were all the work of a group of Bedouin based in northern Sinai.

   

Hundreds of people were detained for questioning in the el Arish area after the Taba attack.

 

Guard

   

Al Ahram said one of three arrested was working as a guard in a farm owned by a Palestinian living in el Arish. His arrest led to the other two being detained.

   

Security officials traced what the newspaper described as the "terrorist cell" by following tracks of two vehicles carrying explosives from central Sinai to Sharm al-Shaikh, the daily said.

 

Three members of the cell died
at the site of the blasts

It said three members of the cell died at the sites of the Sharm al-Shaikh blasts. After the explosions, it had not been immediately clear if some perpetrators had escaped.

   

The first cell member blew himself up in an attack when he rammed the Ghazala Gardens hotel in a pick-up truck and a second died in a pick-up in a market street, Al Ahram said. A third was killed when he blew up a bag near a taxi rank, it said.

   

Hideouts related to the suspects were investigated in the areas of el Arish and al-Qantara, both in north Sinai, where weapons and explosives were seized, the newspaper said.

   

On Friday, two police were wounded in Sinai in a clash with a group suspected of involvement in the attacks. Officials said at the time one man from the group of about 15 was arrested, as well as a woman believed to be the wife of another member.

 

Internations observers rejected

 

A top adviser to President Hosni Mubarak insisted Egypt will not allow international observers to monitor the country's first multi-candidate election next month, reports said Saturday.

 

"Egypt is not under the mandate (of other countries) to accept foreign observers to supervise its presidential election," adviser Osama al-Baz told reporters in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

 

Egypt would adhere to principles of transparency for the 7 September poll, which will be and watched by the world's media, Baz said.

 

The electoral commission said on Thursday that 13,000 officials would monitor the poll.

 

In July, a group of 8000 Egyptian magistrates threatened to boycott the presidential and November legislative elections unless there were guarantees of transparency.

 

They are due to meet on 2 September to make their final decision on election monitoring.