02/23/2009, 00.00
ISLAM - EGYPT
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Attack in Cairo. Suspicions point to Hezbollah and Iran

A young French tourist is dead. Wounded other French, a German, three Saudis and four Egyptians. It is an attack on the Egyptian tourist industry, already humbled by the global economic crises.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A young French tourist was killed and a further 25 people injured in a terrorist attack close to the Khan el Khalili market in the heart of the city.  According to security forces, the explosion was caused by a bomb placed under a bench in front of the Hussein mosque. This morning police announced they had arrested three suspects.

The young woman who died was 17 years old and was part of a group of French tourists.  Among the wounded are 17 French, a German, 3 Saudis and 4 Egyptians.  This is the first attack of this nature to target tourists since the 2006 attack in Dahab, Sinai in which 20 people lost their lives.

Police report that the bomb was home-made.  Security forces confirm that this attack was likely conducted by one of the small militant cells that have split off from the main Islamist groups operating in Egypt that try to model themselves after al Qaeda.

However the effect of the attack against tourists is still significant. Egypt is already suffering a severe economic slump thanks to the global financial crisis. This attack will only exacerbate Egypt’s economic pains.

Analysts note that the attack also comes at a time when Iran, using its militant proxies in Hezbollah, appears to have stepped up covert activity in Egypt. Egypt was the mediator of the truce between Israel and Hamas in the recent war in Gaza, and has long been critical of Hamas militancy and its links to Hezbollah and Teheran.

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