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Thirty killed as blasts shake Egyptian resort

Written by: Staff
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CAIRO, Apr 24 (Reuters) Three explosions shook the Egyptian Sinai resort of Dahab today, killing 30 people and wounding more than 100, rescue and security officials said.

Witnesses said smoke billowed up from the town's tourist bazaar, and residents said they saw body parts and debris on the street after an explosion at a restaurant.

An Interior Ministry statement gave a toll of 10 dead and 100 injured. The ministry often lags behind other sources. It said there were four foreigners among the dead, but did not give their nationalities.

Witnesses in the small beach and diving resort, which is popular with backpackers, described scenes of carnage and chaos.

A cafe worker who was about 200 metres from the scene said: ''We saw many dead people. People were screaming. People were being taken to hospital. Egyptians went to give blood. There were body parts.

There's police everywhere.'' ''There were body parts and debris in the street ... There are ambulances and cars taking people to hospital,'' said another resident, who also did not want to be named.

The explosions took place at the Nelson Restaurant, the Aladdin Cafeteria and the Ghazala Supermarket, the Interior Ministry said.

An official with the local ambulance service said many of the dead appeared to be foreigners.

Israeli divers often stay in the resort but with the Passover holiday over it is unlikely many were there. The Israeli ambassador in Cairo and Israeli authorities said they did not know of any Israeli casualties.

It was the third set of three explosions on the eastern coast of the Sinai peninsula since October 2004, when a group attacked the Hilton hotel in the border resort of Taba and two other resorts on the northeast coast, killing 34 people.

The Egyptian authorities said a closely related group attacked again in the up-market resort of Sharm el-Sheiklh in July last year, killing at least 67 people.

Those attacks were both on Egyptian holidays -- October 6 and July 23. Today's explosions coincided with the ancient spring festival of Shamm el-Nessim, when Egyptians head out of town.

The explosions on Monday took place in quick succession at about 7.15 pm (1715 GMT). ''There is smoke coming from the area and there are people running everywhere,'' said one witness, who heard the blasts.

One visitor said police were stopping cars and buses leaving the resort and had imposed restrictions on movements in and out of backbacker camps in the area.

The Egyptian authorities attributed the Taba and Sharm el-Sheikh attacks to a small Sinai-based group originally led by a man of Palestinian origin and with militant Islamist views.

REUTERS OM RAI0140

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