Shards of glass and bloody body parts littered the ground yesterday as Egypt reeled from a three-bomb attack that ripped apart a Sinai beach resort promenade at the height of Egypt's tourist season, killing at least 24 people, including a German child. More than 60 others were hurt.
It was the third terror strike on a Sinai resort in less than two years and, once again, it happened as Egyptians were enjoying a national holiday.
Security police in Sinai said they had arrested for questioning three people who allegedly left Dahab shortly after the explosions. The police said they did not yet know if the explosions -- timed for maximum destruction along the promenade of bars, restaurants and shops on the holiday evening -- were caused by suicide bombers or bombs on timers.
Asked whether they were suicide bombers, Cabinet spokesman Magdy Rady said: "The theory is not clear yet."
As police sifted the wreckage for clues, an Israeli official predicted the Sinai resorts -- popular with both Western and Israeli tourists and Egyptians -- would continue to be a prime target for Islamic extremists.
The attacks were expected to have an immediate impact on tourism, which is Egypt's No. 1 source of foreign exchange -- bringing in US$6.1 billion in 2004. The Sinai resorts account for about 25 percent of Egypt's hotel beds.
"Egypt is capable of overcoming such a crisis," Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said as he visited wounded survivors in a hospital in Sharm el-Sheik, the biggest city in south Sinai. "We have overcome bigger crises."
A witness said tourists did not know where to run as the blasts kept coming.
"I heard the first bomb, I started running. When I heard the second one, we were still running," said Johanna Sarjas, a journalist from Finland who was on holiday. "It was chaotic because we didn't know in which direction to run. You didn't know where the next bomb would come from."
The resort blasts were so powerful that police divers worked yesterday morning to retrieve body parts from the shallow waters of the sea. At one spot near the beach, two black sandals lay in a pool of blood on a wooden footbridge.
The country's biggest opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood, condemned the attacks and "whoever might be behind them."
The triple blasts brought anguish and calls for an end to violence from Arabs across the region, many of whom questioned why Muslims have now become a prime target for terrorists.
"They want to change our government and break our people," said Mustafa Mahmoud, 24, who works at a travel agency in Cairo.
Governments also were quick to condemn -- as were radical Muslim groups who try to distance themselves from al-Qaeda-like groups.
Jordan's King Abdullah II said it was necessary to bolster "unified international efforts to combat this dangerous disease [terrorism], which is completely alien to our Islamic values and traditions."
Syrian President Bashar Assad also condemned the "criminal act."