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Over 12 Dead In Egyptian Resort Explosions

8 October 2004 -- Explosions rocked three resorts in the Sinai Peninsula near the border with Israel late last night.

Hours after the blasts, there were still no firm figures on the number of casualties. Israeli radio says the death toll has reached 27. Egypt's Interior Ministry said 12 people had died and 135 were wounded in the three blasts. A senior Israeli army official, Major General Yair Naveh, said at least 19 people were killed, 38 were missing, and at least 122 were wounded in the bombings. Most of the victims were reported to be Israelis.

The first and largest blast took place at the Hilton hotel in the Egyptian town of Taba on the Red Sea, just across the border from the Israeli resort of Eliat.

About an hour later, two smaller explosions were reported at nearby Egyptian Red Sea campsites at Tarabin and Ras al-Sultan.

With holidays in both Egypt and Israel, the area was full of tourists from both countries. Russia today said the blasts left one its nationals dead and eight others injured.

The cause of the three explosions is unclear, but Israeli security sources suspect car bombs in all three cases. Egyptian officials said they had no evidence of terrorism but that it was unlikely the three blasts could be coincidence.

Israeli authorities blame the Al-Qaeda terrorist network for the attacks.

Two previously unknown groups, Tawhid Islamic Brigades and Jamaa Al-Islamiya Al-Alamiya (World Islamist Group), claimed responsibility. But neither is known to have organized links with Al-Qaeda.

The Israeli cabinet is due to discuss the Sinai attacks later today.

Last month, Israeli security forces warned Israelis against visiting the region, saying it might be targeted by militants.