Bedouin linked to Egypt bombings

The tribesman has said the buyers had told him the explosives would be used in the Palestinian territories, an Egyptian official says.

The Egyptians say dozens of Bedouins detained for questioning after the car bombings, in Taba and the resort area of Ras Shitan to the south, have been cooperating with authorities.

They have unequalled knowledge of the barren terrain in the region and are often involved in smuggling drugs, weapons or people across borders or on speedboats. Egyptian investigators said they suspected a group of eight to 10 terrorists carried out the attacks, possibly slipping in from Saudi Arabia or Jordan with the Bedouin.

Israeli officials have complained in the past of weapons and explosives being smuggled into the Gaza strip from Sinai this way.

Israeli and Egyptian investigators are leaning toward an al-Qaeda connection for the terrorists, saying a local sleeper cell may have been awakened to carry out the attacks. They say such a group would almost certainly be linked to Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy, who led the Egyptian Islamic Jihad before merging his group with al-Qaeda in 1998.

The three car bombs exploded on Thursday night, one at the Taba Hilton just south of the Egypt-Israel border and two at a town of beach bungalows, Ras Shitan, 55 km to the south on the Red Sea coast.

The death toll from the bombings stands at 32, with victims coming from Israel, Egypt, Italy and Russia. There are still several Israeli and Egyptians missing, thought to be in the rubble of the Taba Hilton.

At the site, hopes of finding any survivors have faded and the Israeli military rescue team has been withdrawn, leaving only Egyptian rescue workers to dig the rubble.

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