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Last Updated: Monday, 1 November, 2004, 17:32 GMT
'No al-Qaeda hand' in Egypt bombs
Rescue workers at the Taba Hilton
The attacks prompted an exodus of Israeli tourists from Egypt
Al-Qaeda played no part in bomb attacks that targeted Israeli tourists on the Sinai peninsula in October, Egypt's interior minister has said.

Israeli officials had linked al-Qaeda to three blasts at Egyptian Red Sea resorts that killed at least 34 people.

Egypt's Interior Minister Habib al-Adli has said the attacks were instead fuelled by a cycle of desperation and violence in the Palestinian areas.

Five Egyptians are in custody for their alleged role in aiding the bombings.

'No external link'

Mr Adli said al-Qaeda's involvement in the attacks had been ruled out on the basis of confessions made by the suspects and evidence gathered by the security services.

The five men arrested so far are accused of obtaining cars and explosives for the attacks, one of which was aimed at the Hilton hotel in the Egyptian resort of Taba while the other two targeted backpackers' camps at the Ras al-Shitan resort.

"Investigations did not point out any link between the executing group and any organisation whether inside or outside to cells belonging to al-Qaeda," Mr Adli said.

A Palestinian man from Egypt and an Egyptian man from the Bedouin community masterminded the attacks, according to the Egyptian interior ministry.

Both men are said to have died in the explosion which wrecked the Taba Hilton hotel on 7 October.

Two men implicated in the Ras al-Shitan bombings are still being hunted by the police.

Israeli evidence

Mr Adli said the attacks reflected "the current cycle of violence in the Palestinian territories and feelings of frustration and hopelessness resulting from it".

However, Israel has again asserted al-Qaeda had a hand in the Egypt attacks.

Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told an Egyptian newspaper there was evidence linking them to Osama Bin Laden's militant network "whether directly or indirectly".

Egypt has meanwhile announced new measures to revive tourism - a bulwark of its economy - in the Red Sea region.

Arrival taxes for Israeli overland visitors have been suspended and some charter airlines serving the airport near Taba will be eligible for financial aid from the government, Egyptian officials said.




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