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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 April 2006, 21:33 GMT 22:33 UK
Egypt probes 'same Sinai bombers'
By Heba Saleh
BBC News, Cairo

The Egyptian security forces say they are pursuing the possibility that the latest bombings in Dahab and the northern Sinai were the work of the same group which carried out previous attacks against the Red Sea resorts of Sharm El Sheikh and Taba.

Bomb-damaged street in Dahab
The bombings in Dahab was Sinai's third major attack in two years

Two suicide bombers struck on Wednesday in the northern Sinai, but this time the attackers failed to injure their targets - the Egyptian police and international peacekeepers monitoring the implementation of the 1979 peace accords with Israel.

The latest attacks came less than 48 hours after explosions ripped through the Sinai resort of Dahab killing 24 people and injuring scores of others.

Interior Minister Habib Al Adly said it was not a coincidence that all three resort attacks happened on holidays celebrating important national events.

Unnamed police sources have been quoted by the official Middle East News Agency as saying that all lines of inquiry were open, but that it was likely that the bombings were the work of the same group.

They named three fugitives, all Sinai natives, and said they were part of a local cell of Islamic militants hiding in the mountains of the region.

Despite the scale of the attacks against the three Sinai resorts, the Egyptian authorities have never said much about their investigations.

But some information started to surface in recent months with the start of the trial of four men who face charges in connection with the bombings in Taba in October 2004 which killed 34 people including foreign tourists.

'Confessions'

Press reports earlier this month which quote court documents, said the bombers in Taba and Sharm El Sheikh were members of a militant group called Al Tawhid Wal Jihad established by a young dentist, Khaled Mosaed, in the town of Al Arish in the northern Sinai in 2002.

He is said to have succeeded in recruiting around 100 men whom he organised in separate cells often kept ignorant of each other in order to limit the damage should members fall into the hands of the security services.

The reports say Mr Mosaed was motivated by anger against the United States over what he regarded as its humiliating treatment of the Muslim world. He also considered Arab governments which fail to implement Islamic law and which are seen to collude with the US as legitimate targets.

So far, nothing has been made public suggesting that there were links between the Sinai militants and al-Qaeda, though it is clear they are at the very least inspired by the actions of Osama Bin Laden and his followers.

The men on trial for the Taba bombing include Younes Alyan Abu Greir who was arrested in September and whose confessions appear to have provided the authorities with their first major breakthrough almost a full year after the first attacks.

Mr Abu Greir was reportedly arrested in the Sinai, after police shot at him when he tried to evade a roadblock.

Mr Mosaed was in the same car and, and according to Mr Abu Greir's statements cited in the press, he was killed at the roadblock after he opened fire at the police.

Mr Abu Greir's confessions are said to have provided important information about how the bombings were carried out and those involved. He also gave details about the group's desert hideouts and the thefts they committed to fund themselves.

Eight alleged Sinai militants have been reported killed over the past year in different clashes with the security forces. Several others are still on the run.



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