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Bombing suspects sought in desert

Sarah El Deeb Associated Press

SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt – Security forces hunted through rugged desert mountains Monday for militants suspected in the bombings in this Red Sea resort, and police searched for five Pakistanis in their investigation into Egypt’s deadliest terror attack.

DNA tests were being run on two bodies that are possibly those of bombers, one believed to be Egyptian, the other a foreigner, a security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the inquiry.

Attackers may have been killed in all three blasts that hit Sharm in quick succession before dawn Saturday, either by accident or as suicide bombers, investigators said Monday. Earlier reports said three bombers may have escaped.

A body believed to be that of a foreign bomber was found at the Ghazala Gardens hotel, where an explosives-laden truck barreled into the driveway, running over a bicyclist and two security guards before crashing into the lobby and exploding at 1:25 a.m.

The other body suspected to be a bomber was found several miles away in the Old Market, an area where Egyptian workers live. A truck bomb had been heading to the Iberotel Palace hotel when it got stuck in traffic near a police checkpoint. An unknown number of bombers in the truck abandoned the vehicle and detonated it – at 1:15 a.m. – but at least one apparently was caught by the explosion.

The third blast, a bomb hidden in a knapsack, went off about four minutes after the Ghazala explosion in a parking lot 150 yards from the hotel, ripping through people running to the Ghazala. Police said they were investigating whether the bomber died.

The identities of the attackers remained unknown Monday. The blasts killed as many as 88 people, including an American woman and at least 16 other foreigners.

The government fired the heads of security in North and South Sinai provinces – a sign of the failures that may have allowed the assault on one of Egypt’s most closely guarded towns. Sharm is an engine of the country’s vital tourism industry, a winter home of the president and the venue for many Israeli-Palestinian summits.

Police launched their desert sweep in two areas, Rouessat and Khorum, some 25 miles from Sharm, after getting a tip that suspects may have gone there, security officials said.

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