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'Al Qaeda signs' in Egypt blast

Officials comb through wreckage


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A victim of one of the explosions is rushed to an Israeli hospital.
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An Egyptian resort hotel is devastated in an explosion being blamed on a bomb.

Ambulances rush to the chaotic scene outside the bombed hotel.
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TABA, Egypt (CNN) -- An Israeli defense official and terrorism analysts said Friday that the three blasts at Egyptian vacation spots frequented by Israelis bear al Qaeda hallmarks.

Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim made his comments the day after the bombings killed at least 29 people and wounded dozens more in Taba.

Egyptian and Israeli officials have been combing through wreckage at the Hilton Hotel searching for victims of the attack.

At least 30 people are missing and officials fear the death toll will rise.

Only 10 bodies had been identified -- six Egyptians, four Israelis.

Egyptian officials said authorities were still working to determine the exact source of the explosions, although they are calling it an attack on the hotel.

Boim said the attacks are similar to those of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network, although he said he's not ruling out the possibility that a Palestinian militant group could be responsible.

Two terrorism analysts told CNN they suspect Egyptian Jihad, a group that merged with al Qaeda in the late 1990s.

But Israeli officials said it is not yet clear who's responsible, and U.S. officials warned against jumping to any conclusions.

Three different, little-known or previously unknown groups have claimed responsibility for the bombings.

All three claims appeared on Islamist Web sites. The third came from a group that said it is associated with al Qaeda.

CNN cannot authenticate any of the claims.

Witnesses to the explosion at the 400-room Hilton Hotel at Taba -- a Red Sea resort just across Egypt's border with Israel, about 100 yards from a border crossing point -- said there were many children inside when the building's west side was demolished.

A senior Israeli government source said a blast was caused by a truck bomb, set off when a truck crashed through the hotel lobby, and there may have been a second attack by a suicide bomber near the hotel pool.

Americans still being accounted for

The British Foreign Office said two Britons were among those wounded, but their injuries were not serious.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said there are reports of "light injuries to several American citizens, and we're still seeking to account for all the American citizens who might have been present in Taba, or for that matter in Sinai, at the time."

About two hours after the attack at the hotel, bombs went off at camping areas in Ras al Sultan and the village of Tarabeen near Nuweiba.

Mustafa Afifi, governor of the Sinai Peninsula, told Egyptian television those blasts were the result of truck bombs.

"This illustrates once again the kind of horrible world we live in -- a world in which people go to a hotel in order to spend a holiday with their children, with their families, and get blown up," Israel's U.N. ambassador Dan Gillerman told CNN Friday.

He called on the world to "form a coalition which would show zero tolerance toward terrorism" and mobilize against such attacks.

The bombing in Taba marks the deadliest terrorist attack on an Israeli target outside of Israel.

The Israeli government had warned its citizens not to travel to the Sinai Peninsula during the Jewish religious holiday period, citing information that suggested possible plans for a terrorist attack.

But Israel said approximately 15,000 traveled to the region anyway. Gillerman noted there are constant fears of terrorism in Israel and travelers want "to lead their own lives."

Asked whether Israel believes Palestinians were linked to the attack, he said Israel did not want to judge before it had the facts. "But what we do know is that the Palestinians are the ones who gave the world suicide bombings, who gave the world airplane hijackings and hostage takings.

It's a Palestinian invention which unfortunately they've exported with great skill all over the world."

Widespread condemnation

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat condemned the attacks and said, "This only serves to undermine the Egyptian role in the region and the peace process."

Nabil abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, also condemned the attacks but said, "The sources of all troubles and all violence and all terror is the continued Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land, this is the basic lesson which the Israelis and the Americans must understand, as long as the Israeli occupation continues on the Palestinian land, violence will continue in the region and the whole world."

The U.N. Security Council said in a statement, "Any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, whenever and by whomsoever committed."

The council "strongly condemned" the "heinous attack" in Taba and expressed "deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims of the attacks and their families."

The council adopted a resolution Friday aimed at reaffirming "the central role of the United Nations in the fight against terrorism and the determination of the Council to stand together in confronting the scourge of terrorism," the statement said.

President Bush condemned "in the strongest possible terms the vicious terrorist attacks."

In a statement, Bush said that by "targeting Muslims and Jews, Egyptians and Israelis, and women and children, the terrorists have shown their total contempt for all human life and for all human values."

He added, "On behalf of the American people, I express condolences to all who lost loved ones and to the people of Egypt and of Israel. ... The United States stands ready to provide assistance to the government of Egypt as it brings the perpetrators of these acts to justice."

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met with his Cabinet in emergency session and spoke with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to coordinate efforts. The two men agreed to concentrate efforts and forces in the war on terrorism, a statement from Sharon's office said.

The two nations' foreign ministers have been in direct contact as well.

Gillerman said Israel does not suspect the involvement of Egyptians.

"Egypt is a victim of this attack and we have great sympathy," he said. "Egypt is just another moderate Arab government just like Morocco, just like Tunisia, who is suffering because of its moderation at the hands of these extremists and fundamentalists who must be eradicated."

CNN's John Vause and Ben Wedeman contributed to this story.


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