CAIRO, Egypt – As many as seven explosions struck the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula early Saturday, targeting several hotels and killing at least 25 people, witnesses and police said.
Saturday’s explosions at 1:15 a.m., when many tourists would have been asleep, shook windows a mile away. Smoke and fire rose from Naama Bay, a main strip of beach hotels in the desert city popular with Israeli and European tourists, witnesses said.
A police official in Sharm el-Sheik said at least 25 were killed and 110 wounded in multiple explosions targeting the Ghazala Gardens and Movenpick hotels in Naama Bay and the Old Market area nearby. Other officials in Sharm said there may have been as many as seven blasts: three in Naama Bay and four in the market.
Amal Mustafa, 28, an Egyptian who was visiting with her family, said she drove by the Ghazala Garden — a 176-room four-star resort on the main tourist strip in Naama — and it was “completely burned down, destroyed.”
Khaled Sakran, a resident, said he saw one explosion from the Old Market. “I saw the saw the fire in the sky,” he told The Associated Press. “Right after, I saw a light in the sky and heard another explosion, coming from Naama Bay.”
“The blast shook my house, I can see the fire and lots of smoke,” Akram al-Sherif, a Jordanian who was staying at a summer house less than a mile away, said.
In October 2004, a series of explosions hit several hotels in the Sinai resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan, about 100 miles northwest along the Gulf of Aqaba coast, killing 34 people. Egyptian authorities said that attack was linked to Israeli-Palestinian violence and launched a large wave of arrests in Sinai.
Thousands of tourists are drawn to Sharm for its sun, clear blue water, and coral reefs. It also has been a meeting place where world leaders have tried to hammer out a Mideast peace agreement. Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas met there in February and agreed to a cease-fire.