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Egypt Investigating Dahab Bombings


The Egyptian resort town of Dahab is still reeling from the triple bombings that killed at least 23 people late Monday. Most of the casualties are Egyptian, but some of the dead are reported to be foreign tourists, including a German child and a Russian. Egyptian authorities are sifting through the evidence to try to find the attackers.

A band of young men started a spontaneous protest in the streets of Dahab as shopkeepers cleaned up after the deadly blasts. "We love everyone", they chanted, a testament to Dahab's famously laid-back, bohemian atmosphere.

But the same main street was anything but relaxed and joyful late Monday after three bombs ripped though shops and restaurants.

A café cook named Osama Abdel-Aziz was busy filling dinner orders when he heard the explosions, one of which was less than 200 meters from his kitchen.

"People were panicking, shouting for their children, and running madly away from the blasts," he said. "A lot of them ran straight into the ocean with all their clothes on."

The man says he helped carry three wounded people, including a foreign tourist, to police cars because no ambulances were at the scene yet. He points to his chef's jacket, which lies crumpled up in the corner, covered in blood.

The bombs left shattered glass everywhere, and by Tuesday pools of blood were still drying on the sidewalks as the sun climbed higher. Bloody footprints could be seen leading away from the blast sites.

"I am starting to realize how lucky I was," said one of the tourists.

The day after the attacks, the tiny resort town is still crawling with tourists and journalists. The streets are filled with a mixture of Westerners in shorts and tank tops, Bedouins in traditional white robes and checkered headgear, and uniformed police in riot gear.

German tourist Brigette Kienli has visited Dahab many times, and befriended some local business people with shops near the blast sites. She was walking through town with a friend, visibly distraught.

"We have friends inside, close to the place where the explosions hit," she said. "And we would like to know if they are okay. That is another reason we came."

Kienli and her friends calmly did not realize at first what had happened. They thought cooking gas canisters had exploded. She wipes a tear away from her eye as she describes how they calmly finished their dinner and asked for the check, only to find out from the waiter that people had been killed and wounded just a few-hundred meters away.

Down the street, Della Levanos is chalking a message of peace onto a blackboard outside her husband's bar and restaurant. Over and over, she writes, "Egypt: a great place to live", and then the restaurant's slogan: "Peace and Party."

Originally from Australia, Levanos has lived in Dahab for 20 years and has no intention of letting a few bombs chase her away.

"You know, Madrid, London, New York, Dahab. It is a 21st century phenomenon, unfortunately," she noted. "But every person on this planet has to stand up and say to the governments, we need peace. Violence breeds violence. We need peace."

Outside, surrounded by yellow police tape, Egyptian officials are beginning their investigation into how the bombs were triggered.

Egypt's chief prosecutors and a team of other investigators inspect the site of the blast. The charred remains of a bicycle are twisted around a mangled laptop computer. A man picks the computer up and carries it away. It is evidence.

The three bombs that exploded in Dahab appear to have been smaller than the ones used in an attack last year in Sharm el-Sheikh, 80 kilometers to the south.

Initial evidence seems to point to remote detonation, rather than suicide attacks. But the bombs were placed in areas where they were likely to kill and wound many people, and they were timed to go off just after sunset, when the market area was most crowded.

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