- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 24, 2005

SHARM EL SHEIK, Egypt — Police searched yesterday for three suspected bombers who they think escaped the scene of the country’s deadliest terror attacks as foreign tourists scrambled to catch flights home from this Red Sea resort.

A fourth attacker apparently blew himself up in a devastating bombing of a hotel, security officials said. The three coordinated blasts early Saturday killed 88 persons and injured more than 100.

Police have rounded up more than 70 people for questioning in Sharm el Sheik and elsewhere in the Sinai Peninsula. None has been accused of involvement in the attacks, said security officials who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the investigation.

The roundups appeared similar to police operations after October’s attacks at the Sinai resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan, which Egypt’s interior minister has said could be linked to the blasts in Sharm el Sheik, about 125 miles south.

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights said about 3,000 people “were randomly apprehended” after the October attacks. Many of them complained they were tortured, said locals and human rights groups.

Police were investigating whether one of three suspects still at large from the Taba bombings was the suicide bomber in Saturday’s attacks. DNA samples were taken from the parents of the fugitive in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish, a police official said.

The DNA will be compared to that of bodies found at the Ghazala Gardens hotel, the official said.

Security officials suspect four terrorists used two pickup trucks loaded with an estimated 880 pounds of explosives, possibly hidden under piles of vegetables. They drove into Sharm el Sheik along desert tracks from the north to bomb the Ghazala Gardens hotel in Naama Bay and a coffee shop in an area called the Old Market, two miles away.

Two of the men left in the Old Market area a green Isuzu pickup packed with explosives, which appears to have been set off with a timing device, the officials said.

Two other militants drove a white pickup truck to Naama Bay. One got out in a parking lot, where he planted a small bomb rigged with a timer in a suitcase. The other slammed the truck into the Ghazala Gardens hotel in a suicide bombing.

As frantic people fled the scene, the suitcase bomb exploded in the parking lot 150 yards away, killing at least seven persons, the officials said.

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