Bombings in Egypt’s Sinai resort city of Dahab: 23 killed

Three nearly simultaneous bombings hit an Egyptian beach resort popular with foreigners Monday, killing at least 23 people on streets filled with vacationers and Egyptians marking the beginning of spring.

The bombers struck the Sinai seaside city of Dahab in the early evening along a crowded promenade of shops, restaurants and bars. Interior Minister Habib el-Adly said those killed included 20 Egyptians and three foreigners. Sixty-two people were wounded.

The explosions came a day after Osama bin Laden issued a call to arms to Muslims to support al-Qaida in fighting what he calls a war against Islam.

The bombings, the third terror strike on a Sinai resort in less than two years, hit Dahab at 7:15 p.m. when the streets were jammed with tourists strolling, shopping or looking for a restaurant or bar for evening festivities by the tranquil waters of the Gulf of Aqaba.

"There were just three loud bangs and people rushing around," British tourist Paul McBeath told Sky News. "Everybody is shaken."

Another witness said the Al Capone restaurant, one of the area's most popular spots, was destroyed.

"The tables and chairs have gone, there is nothing left," Joseph Nazir, who owns a safari company in Dahab, told Britain's Press Association. "Everybody is panicking, a lot of people are crying. We will be affected by this for a long, long time."

Hotels and guesthouses were filled with foreigners and with Egyptians celebrating the long Coptic Christian Easter weekend that coincided this year with Shem al-Nessim, the ancient holiday marking the first day of spring.

For years, Dahab was a popular, low-key haven for young Western and Israeli backpackers drawn by prime scuba diving and cheap hotels, which mainly consisted of huts set up along the beach. In recent years, a number of more upscale hotels have been built, including a five-star Hilton resort.

At least three Israelis were hurt in the attack, which sent a steady stream of cars back to Israel some 65 miles to the north. Israeli authorities said 1,800 of their citizens were in the Sinai at the time of the blasts. However, there were far fewer Israelis vacationing in Sinai than during last week's Passover holiday, reports the AP.

I.L.