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Thursday, May 13, 1999 Published at 20:28 GMT 21:28 UK


World: Middle East

Bin Laden 'behind Luxor massacre'

Four Egyptians and 58 tourists died in the attack

By Barbara Plett in Cairo

Egypt has told a Swiss delegation it believes the Saudi dissident, Osama bin Laden, financed the 1997 massacre of tourists in Luxor.

Four Egyptians and 58 tourists - 35 of them Swiss nationals - were killed in the attack by Muslim militants.

Switzerland's federal police chief, Urs Von Daeniken, told journalists that Egypt suspects the Luxor massacre was ordered by an Egyptian named Mustafa Hamza and carried out with funding from Osama bin Laden.

Mr Hamza is said to be a military leader of Egypt's largest Muslim militant group, the Gamaa al-Islamiyya, and appeared to have given either direct or indirect instructions for the attack from Sudan.

He is now believed to be living in Afghanistan, where Mr bin Laden has his headquarters.

The United States has accused Osama bin Laden of masterminding a terrorist network suspected of bombing two American embassies in Africa last year.

Washington responded with missile attacks on sites in Afghanistan and Sudan said to be linked to Mr bin Laden, but has failed to produce strong evidence to support the Sudanese connection.

Mr Von Daeniken said Switzerland was satisfied with Egypt's conclusion in light of the available evidence.

He was in Cairo with Switzerland's Attorney General to follow up the Egyptian investigation.

Eighteen months after the massacre, Egypt still has not given Switzerland a final report.

Officials here say the inquiry is still open, but have promised to provide written answers to a list of Swiss questions within 15 days.

Mr Von Daeniken confirmed that Egypt has not yet been able to identify the sixth terrorist - the other five were young men from southern Egypt, most of them students.

All were killed in unclear circumstances after the attack.



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