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Tourists hit by Cairo bomb blast

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Police cordon off blast scene

A bomb explosion in Cairo has killed a French tourist and injured more than 20 other people, mostly foreign tourists.

It happened at an open-air hotel cafe packed with tourists in the Khan al-Khalili area - a major attraction and home to a prominent mosque.

The device, most likely home-made, was thrown from a balcony, Egyptian police said. Conflicting reports say the bomb may have been left under a bench.

The tourist killed was identified as a 17-year-old girl by French authorities.

There has been no indication so far of who is behind the attack, and no arrests have yet been confirmed.

'Devastating effect'

Those injured in the "relatively small" blast included 10 French nationals, four Germans and three Egyptians, according to police.

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The French foreign ministry confirmed the death of one of its citizens.

"The victim was 17 years old and had travelled with a group of young people from Levallois," foreign ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying. Levallois-Perret is a suburb of Paris.

Eight French nationals were injured in the attack, the French foreign ministry said.

Those injured were part of a group of 54 teenagers from Paris visiting the Egyptian capital, AFP reported.

Six of the more than 20 people hurt are thought to be in a serious condition.

The early evening explosion happened near the Hussein mosque and a well-known bazaar, in what is a historic area.

This is a very crowded area with tiny streets, which is why even a small blast would appear to have had such a devastating effect, the BBC's Christian Fraser in Cairo says.

It is thought the bomb was thrown from an upper floor of the hotel, our correspondent says.

But news agencies have also quoted a report from the Egyptian state news service Mena, which said the bomb had exploded under a bench.

The area was sealed off, as bomb disposal experts were sent in to defuse a second device which failed to explode.

'Plenty of enemies'

"The blast was so powerful that the earth shook underneath us," an eyewitness told Egypt's Nile News TV.

EGYPT ATTACKS
April 2006: Bombs at Dahab, on the Red Sea, kill at least 23
April 2005: Bombing at Khan al-Khalili kills three people, including Frenchman and American
July 2005: At least 88 people die in bomb attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh, on the Red Sea
March 2005: Hungarian couple stabbed while kissing near Khan al-Khalili
Oct 2004: Bombs at Red Sea resorts of Taba and Nuweiba kill at least 34 people
1997: Gunmen fire on tourists in Cairo and in Luxor, killing 68

"We all lay down on the ground. Blood was streaming from the back of one of the people running away from the blast. I even saw a separated hand and an arm. Just shredded human flesh," the witness said.

No cars are allowed into the area but motorbikes can get around the barriers, our correspondent says.

The Khan al-Khalili area was targeted in 2005, when three people - including an American and a French tourist - were killed in a blast.

Sunday's explosion would be of huge concern to Egypt's security services, our correspondent says.

These are tense times for the Egyptian government, he adds, which has been criticised for its stance over the recent conflict in Gaza and has many enemies.

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SEE ALSO
Timeline: Egypt
08 Oct 08 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Egypt
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