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TERRORISM Egypt hunts for clues to resort bombers' location



Published: Tue, July 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Security is searching the wilderness while bodies are being tested for DNA.

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) -- Security forces hunted through rugged desert mountains Monday for militants suspected in the bombings in this Red Sea resort, and investigators said attackers may have been killed in all three explosions -- either accidentally or as suicide bombers.

Police at checkpoints around Sharm el-Sheikh, meanwhile, were circulating photographs of the five Pakistanis believed to have come to the area from Cairo earlier this month, at least two investigators said.

DNA tests were being run on two bodies that could be those of bombers, one believed to be Egyptian, the other a foreigner, a security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the release of details in the probe had not been authorized.

Earlier reports said three bombers may have escaped the blasts, which struck Sharm el-Sheikh in quick succession before dawn Saturday. However, investigators said Monday that attackers may have been killed in all three blasts, either by accident or as suicide bombers.

Examining the blast sites

A body believed to be that of a foreign bomber was found at the Ghazala Gardens hotel, where an explosives-laden truck barreled into the driveway, running over a bicyclist and two security guards before crashing into the lobby and exploding at 1:25 a.m.

The other body suspected to be a bomber was found several miles away in the Old Market, an area where Egyptian workers live. A truck bomb had been heading to the Iberotel Palace hotel when it got stuck in traffic near a police checkpoint. An unknown number of bombers in the truck abandoned the vehicle and detonated it -- at 1:15 a.m. -- but at least one apparently was caught by the explosion.

The third blast, a bomb hidden in a knapsack, went off about four minutes after the Ghazala explosion in a parking lot 150 yards from the hotel, ripping through people running to the Ghazala. Police said they were investigating whether the bomber died.

The identities of the attackers remained unknown Monday. The blasts killed as many as 88 people, including an American woman and at least 16 other foreigners.

The government sacked the heads of security in North and South Sinai provinces -- a sign of the failures that may have allowed the assault on one of Egypt's most closely guarded towns. Sharm is an engine of the country's vital tourism industry, a winter home of the president and the venue for many Israeli-Palestinian summits.

Police launched their desert sweep in two areas, Rouessat and Khorum, some 25 miles from Sharm, after getting a tip that suspects may have gone there, security officials said. They also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the release of details had not been authorized.




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