10 Dahab bombing suspects arrested

Anti-terror expert says more Sinai attacks planned; leaders condemn violence.

Sinai blast 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Sinai blast 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
An Egyptian security official reported on Tuesday that police had arrested 10 people on suspicion of involvement in Monday's triple terror attack in Dahab which killed at least 24 people. Details of the suspects were not yet released for publish. Meanwhile, an anti-terrorism expert said that groups in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula were already plotting their next attack on the popular resort area. Brig.-Gen. Elkana Har Nof, an official in the prime minister's counterterrorism department, said the Red Sea coast area is a target because it is popular with both Israeli and Western tourists, and important to the tourism economy of pro-Western Egypt.
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"The [Sinai] coast combines all the elements that are a target, especially for global jihad," Har Nof told Army Radio, referring to Islamic terrorist groups such as al-Qaida. Har Nof said international terrorist groups have used money to recruit members of Sinai's local Bedouin community. "Today you don't know which Bedouins are drafted, connected to the global Jihad," he said. Har Nof said Egypt had done a "great job" cracking down on terrorists, but more work remained. "I don't think they apprehended all of them, new members have been drafted, and therefore Sinai remains a target," he said. "I don't see this issue disappearing quickly. After this attack, they are already planning the next one." Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert telephoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Monday night to express his condolences and those of the Israeli people. In the brief phone call, the two leaders discussed the need to cooperate against global terrorism, the Prime Minister's Office said. Israel's ambassador to Egypt, Shalom Cohen, stressed that Mubarak's rule was stable and that, for the most part, terror attacks damaged the Egyptian economy and tourism in the region, Israel Radio reported. "Unfortunately, the warnings came true," Cohen told Channel 10 on Monday night. Meanwhile, in a Monday press release, the Hamas government said that the Palestinians "strongly condemn the criminal act which goes against religious beliefs and is against Arab interests." French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy praised Hamas's condemnation, calling it an important development in the Palestinian group's foreign policy. Two French tourists were among those injured in triple attack, Douste-Blazy said. "This attack was condemned by Israel, by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and for the first time condemned by Hamas," Douste-Blazy said on France 2 television. "This is a major development of foreign policy." The French foreign minister said there was no reason to warn tourists against visiting Egypt, but said, "We must not let down our guard in the face of terrorism." "It is extremely important, more than ever, for us, France, the European Union, to defend the vision of the world of dialogue between religions and civilizations," he said. French President Jacques Chirac joined other world leaders in condemning what he called an "odious terrorist act" and offered his support to Mubarak. In a statement issued by Austria, the current holder of the rotating EU presidency, the 25-nation bloc said it "strongly condemns the despicable terrorist attacks in the Egyptian resort town of Dahab which caused death and injuries to numerous people" and offered condolences to families of the victims. "Once again, heinous terrorist forces have brought despair and suffering to innocent civilians," the statement said. US President George W. Bush also condemned the deadly explosions, calling them "a heinous act of terror," and vowed to bring the terrorists to justice. "Today we saw again that the terrorists are willing to try to define the world the way they want to see it," Bush said during a fundraising speech. "The United States sends our condolences to the families of those who were killed," Bush said. "We keep those were injured in our thoughts and prayers, and I assure the enemy this: we will stay on the offense, we will not waver, we will not tire, we will bring you to justice for the sake of peace and humanity." Russia "decisively and categorically" condemned the terrorist bombings. "We resolutely denounce these terrorist attacks in Egypt," ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin was quoted as saying by the RIA-Novosti news agency. "We express (our) condolences to the leadership of Egypt, the Egyptian people and all the relatives of the victims." A 30-year-old Russian man was killed in the blasts Monday, according to the Foreign Ministry, and a Russian woman suffered light injuries was among the dozens wounded. Other world leaders also denounced the attack, including United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw, and Syrian President Bashar Assad.