Sinai terror update
by: Ursula Lindsey - Last updated: 2004-10-11
Attack on Taba Hilton
The bombs, which exploded outside a hotel and two camping resorts Thursday, killed at least 34 and wounded more than 120. Egyptian and Israeli officials are reconstructing how the attacks were carried out.
Search and rescue teams working in the wreckage of the Taba Hilton Hotel said they did not expect to find any more bodies. According to the Egyptian Ministry of Interior, nine Egyptians, five Israelis, and 20 unidentified victims have been found in the rubble.
Investigators were also busy lifting fingerprints, swabbing dust, and collecting tissue samples from the sites of the three car bombings.
Egyptian authorities have also detained about 15 Bedouin tribesmen, who they believe may have helped the terrorists smuggle in explosives.
Egyptian military expert and former director of the Strategic Center of the Armed Forces Hossam Soweillem says Bedouins in Sinai have come under suspicion because of their experience smuggling drugs and weapons past checkpoints in Sinai.
General Soweillem also agrees with the conclusions of Egyptian officials who say a group of eight to 10 terrorists possibly slipped into the country on speedboats from Jordan or Saudi Arabia. He says the attack would have had to come from the East, which he said is less heavily patrolled by Egyptian troops, in accordance with terms set out in the Egyptian-Israeli Camp David peace treaty.
"The Western side is totally controlled by Egyptian troops," said General Soweillem. "But according to the Camp David Treaty, the Eastern passes of Sinai are not controlled by the Egyptian troops but by some policemen, especially that area of Taba and Dahab and the Aqaba Coast. That is why it is impossible that these people who committed this crime [were] coming from the West, I mean coming from the Nile side, but they are coming from the East, from Israel, from Jordan."
Egyptian officials have said the terrorists may have been an Egyptian sleeper cell with links to al-Qaida's second-in-command, Egyptian Ayman Al-Zawahari.
According to Israeli intelligence officials, two car-bombs in front of the hotel and a suicide bomber by the pool started a fire, collapsed several floors, and caused a wall to fall.
Story supplied by: VOAnews