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Egyptian police sweep for terror ties

CAIRO, Egypt – Police detained about 200 people on Sunday from the villages of three attackers responsible for a bomb blast and tour bus attack near Cairo tourist sites the day before, authorities said.

The records of the detainees, from the villages of al-Ammar and Ezbet al-Gabalawi north of Cairo, are being examined for any connections with local terror networks, police said.

On Saturday, a man identified as a suspect in an April 7 bombing blew himself up as he leapt off a bridge during a police chase, officials said.

Less than two hours later, two veiled women – reportedly the man’s sister and fiancee – attacked a tour bus. Officials and media said the bus was carrying Israeli tourists. Nine people, four of them foreigners, were wounded in the apparent revival of violence against Egypt’s vital tourism industry.

Egyptian authorities denied that major militant groups have returned to the violence that plagued the country during a bloody campaign by Islamic extremists in the 1990s. They said Saturday’s violence was a result of a government crackdown on a small militant cell it says carried out an April 7 suicide bombing near a Cairo tourist bazaar that killed two French tourists and an American.

In a statement Sunday, the opposition Al-Ghad Party said the violence is the result of an “environment of oppression and depression,” a reference to emergency laws the country has lived under since 1981. Opposition groups have called on President Hosni Mubarak to revoke the laws.

The Interior Ministry said the bombing was a reaction to a police roundup of those behind the bazaar bombing in April.

Officials said police captured two suspects Saturday in connection with that attack and were chasing a third on a highway overpass when he jumped off, setting off a nail-filled bomb.

The explosion in the center of Cairo wounded three Egyptians, an Israeli couple, a Swedish man and an Italian woman. The two women who carried out the shooting attack on the bus near the historic Citadel site were identified as Negat Yassin, the bomber’s sister, and Iman Ibrahim Khamis, his fiancee, both in their 20s.

After firing on the tour bus, Yassin shot and wounded her companion before killing herself. Khamis died later of her wounds. Officials said they had acted in revenge for the death of their brother and fiance.

Two militant groups posted Web statements claiming responsibility for the attacks. Neither claim could be verified. One group said Saturday’s violence was done in revenge for the arrests of thousands of people in Sinai after bombings at two resorts there killed 34 people last October.


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