As Condoleezza Rice arrived in Israel yesterday, a series of simultaenous explosions, including four car bombs, ripped through luxury hotels and shops in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik in the Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 83. The attack, Egypt’s deadliest ever, targeted a resort popular with Israelis and Europeans. Two Britons, two Germans and an Italian are among the dead. Claiming responsibility on an Islamist web site are the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, also known as “al-Qaeda in Syria and Egypt,” which had also claimed responsibility for October bombings at the Egyptian resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan that killed 34. The group also claimed responsbility for a Cairo bombing in late April. (AP, July 23)
Hours earlier, an explosion rocked a busy street of restaurants and bars in a Christian neighborhood of Beirut, leaving one dead and several wounded. (AP, July 23)
The blast occassioned Rice’s surprise visit to Lebanon to urge the new government to implement the part of resolution 1559 calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah and the Palestinian refugees in their camps, which was met with angry reactions. Sheikh Abdulamir Qabalan, deputy chair of the Lebanese Islamic Shiite Council, warned in his Friday sermon that “if the U.S. Secretary of States’ visit to Beirut aims at intervening in the Lebanese affairs, then it is an unaccepted issue.” He called for preserving close relations with Syria and blasted what he called “Israel’s role in destabilizing Lebanon through the assassinations it carried out in the country”. (Arab Monitor, July 23)
Syria claimed last week that as many as 37 of its workers in Lebanon were killed in revenge after Hariri’s assassination, which was blamed on Syria and its allies in Lebanon. (UPI, July 23)
See our last posts on Egypt and Lebanon, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades.
Gunbattle with Sinai Bedouin
From AFP, July 26: