Israel blames al-Qaeda for Egypt attack

“According to our first information, it appears to be an international terror attack with the hallmarks of al-Qaeda,” said Israel’s deputy defence minister Zeev Boim.

The main blast occurred at the Hilton hotel in Taba on the Sinai Peninsula, close to the Israeli border.

Officials say a vehicle loaded with explosives blew up after ramming the hotel.

The other blasts hit backpacker beaches near the resort of Nuweiba, south of Taba, killing at least two people and wounding many.

Another 38 people are missing and some 122 were wounded in the explosions that happened as Israeli holidaymakers celebrated the final day of the Jewish festival of Sukkot.

“Al-Qaeda threatens all the countries, including Arab ones that according to it have close relations with Israel or the Western world,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.

“This would explain the recent attacks in Morocco, Istanbul or Riyadh,” Mr Shalom said, speaking of a series of deadly bombings in those cities.

“The struggle against terrorism is worldwide and we are far from having won it because organisations, not states, are behind it.”

Rescuers continue to search through the rubble of the Hilton hotel searching for survivors and bodies.

Throughout the night, Israelis streamed back across the border checkpoint between Taba and the Israeli resort of Eilat as ambulances shuttled back and forth carrying bloodied victims, including many children, to Israeli hospitals.

Israeli police said the explosion was caused by a powerful car bomb that detonated near the entrance to the four-star Hilton, destroying a wing of the building.

Footage has shown collapsed staircases and tangled piles of metal and concrete.

A previously unknown group calling itself Islamic Unity Brigades has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were in revenge for Israel’s assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March.

And a separate group calling itself Jamaa Al-Islamiya Al-Alamiya (World Islamist Group) also claimed the Taba attack, in a telephone call to AFP in Jerusalem, saying it was to avenge “the Palestinian and Arab martyrs dying in Palestine and Iraq.”

Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979, the first between Israel and an Arab country, however relations have soured since the start of the second Palestinian intifada four years ago.

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