CAIRO, July 27: Egyptian investigators have found connections between the deadly bombings in Sharm el-Sheikh and another wave of attacks last October on Sinai resorts, security sources said on Wednesday. A senior police source also said that Egypt had received a warning following the July 7 London bombings that the Red Sea resort could be targeted.
“It is very likely that the latest explosions in Sharm el-Sheikh and those in Taba are closely linked,” the sources told AFP.
“All clues so far indicate that the group that carried out the Sharm attacks used the same strategy and planning as that adopted by the perpetrators of the first wave of attacks.” According to the health ministry, at least 67 people, including 16 foreigners, died in Saturday’s bombings. At least 34 were killed in October 7 triple bombings on the Sinai resorts of Taba and Nuweiba, further north.
The sources also pointed to similarities in the timing and the choice of target. Both attacks struck during a busy holiday season and in areas packed with foreign tourists, including holidaymakers from neighbouring Israel. They also said that the explosives used in both attacks were very similar.
“Following the latest attacks in London, the Egyptian security services had received information that terror attacks could be perpetrated in Sharm el-Sheikh,” the police official said.
“The warning came four days before the three explosions rocked the city,” he said.
“Police forces were put on high alert and security was beefed up in the city, where police presence and checks were increased,” the same source said.
The official denied reports that security had only been strengthened around casinos, often packed with Israelis owing to a ban on gambling in their country, and that the warning was received more than a month before the attacks.
A flying roadblock set up temporarily near the old market area in Sharm el-Sheikh prevented the suicide car bomber from reaching a nearby hotel, South Sinai Governor Mustafa Afifi said on Monday.
Egyptian security forces have been sweeping the Sinai peninsula for suspects and comparing DNA sampled on the suicide bombers with that of suspects’ relatives. Security sources said that a known Sinai namely Mussa Badran was suspected of being one of the Sharm suicide bombers.
Badran was arrested and later released following the Taba bombings. The cell accused by the government of committing the Taba attacks consisted of a Palestinian and Egyptians, including several Bedouin.
The sources had earlier identified the alleged bomber as Yussef, confusing him with his brother Mussa.
Many aspects of the investigation remained shrouded in mystery with no clear direction emerging so far, contradictory information on the casualty toll and three different claims for the attacks.
Four days after the bombs ripped through the glitzy beach and dive resort, a question mark also hung over the death toll, with the health and tourism ministries saying 67 people had perished.
“The death toll stands at 67, among them 16 foreigners,” tourism ministry spokeswoman Hala al-Khatib told AFP on Tuesday. Hospital officials had previously said that 88 people died.
A previously unknown movement calling itself the Unity and Jihad Group in Egypt on Tuesday became the third organisation to claim responsibility for the attacks. The group said it also carried out the October bombings.—AFP