Egypt hunting Pakistani blast suspects

Egyptian security officials have released a list of names and photographs of Pakistani nationals, suspected of playing a major role in the Saturday bombings at Sharm al-Shaikh, Aljazeera has learned.

Aljazeera has aired pictures of the Pakistani suspects
Aljazeera has aired pictures of the Pakistani suspects

A group of about five to nine Pakistanis are said to have disappeared from the hotel they were staying in and where they had left their passports, Aljazeera’s correspondent in Egypt, Hussain Abd al-Ghani, reported.

The list was distributed and the authorities have begun searching for the suspects, who are now believed to be directly responsible for the blasts.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman has, however, said that it is unlikely that the Pakistanis were involved in the attacks.

Muhammad Naeem Khan said a media report had created an impression the Pakistanis were prime suspects in the attack, but the Egyptian authorities had not passed on any such information to Pakistan’s embassy in Cairo.

“I think that there is no connection between these nine Pakistanis and the bomb blasts in Egypt,” Khan said at a regular weekly news conference.


Egyptian police have already arrested 95 people in connection with the Sharm al-Shaikh blasts that killed 88 people in the Red Sea resort – the deadliest bombing in the country’s history.

The latest information is a blow to security officials, reported the correspondent, as investigators already had leads suggesting the attacks could be connected to the deadly 7 October bombings in Taba, further north on the Sinai coast.

In those attacks, car bombs hit hotels in Taba and Ras Shitan – resorts near the Israeli border – nearly simultaneously, killing 34 people.

Aim to destabilise

Saturday’s pre-dawn attacks, which analysts said were an attempt to destabilise Egypt in the run-up to the first-ever competitive presidential election just weeks away, were claimed by an al-Qaida-linked group.

Saturday’s blasts killed 88 peopleand injured nearly 200

Saturday’s blasts killed 88 people
and injured nearly 200

Security sources said DNA samples from the remains of one of the car bombers would be compared to those of detained Taba suspects to establish whether they were related.

At least nine foreigners were killed, dealing a heavy blow to the tourism industry, a vital revenue earner for the Arab world’s most populous nation. Nearly 200 people were injured in the blasts, most of them Egyptian. 

Security forces have been sweeping the Sinai peninsula since the explosions struck a luxury seafront hotel, a car park and a busy market area.

“This cowardly and criminal act, which is aimed at destabilising Egypt, will reinforce our determination to press the battle against terror through to its eradication,” President Hosni Mubarak said on Saturday.

The bombings, which turned the jewel of Egypt’s tourism industry into a nightmare of blood and destruction, were claimed by a group citing ties with Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network.

Identifying bodies

Meanwhile, forensic scientists continued to identify the victims of the blasts, the largest of which destroyed the Ghazala Gardens hotel and accounted for about half of the victims.

Egyptians took to the streets to voice their anger

Egyptians took to the streets 
to voice their anger

Medics said some bodies were burnt or mangled beyond recognition and that the identification process could take some time, while also warning that the toll could rise further as many wounded were in a critical condition.

“I’ve never seen so many eviscerated people and terrible wounds in my life,” said Rabab, 19, a nurse at the International hospital in Sharm al-Shaikh.

While the Egyptian authorities said thousands of tourists continued to pour into the Red Sea resort, thousands of others were cutting their holidays short and fleeing the carnage.

About 700 Sharm al-Shaikh residents and foreigners working in the resort held a peace demonstration, chanting: “We are against terrorism” and: “United we will win.”

Global criticism

Condemnation of the blasts came from all over the world with the White House denouncing “in the strongest possible terms” the “barbaric” attacks.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke of his “sorrow and anger”. While deploring the blasts, Iran pointed a finger at US counter-terrorism policy in the region.

Arab newspapers also printed unequivocal condemnations of the bombings.

A new scare on Sunday hit Egypt’s capital, Cairo, scene of deadly attacks against tourists in the 1990s, where police initially said a man was critically wounded by the accidental explosion of his own bomb.

However, the Interior Ministry released a statement denying there had been a bomb and explaining that the 33-year-old man was “an avid collector of vintage items” and was wounded by the explosion of one of his objects.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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