Cairo, Egypt Three nearly simultaneous bombings hit an Egyptian beach resort popular with foreigners Monday at the height of the tourist season, killing at least 23 people a day after Osama bin Laden issued a taped warning against Westerners.
The bombers struck the Sinai seaside city of Dahab in the early evening along a crowded promenade of shops, restaurants and bars. Interior Minister Habib el-Adly said those killed included 20 Egyptians and three foreigners. Sixty-two people were wounded.
The explosions - the third terror strike on a Sinai resort in less than two years - hit Dahab at 7:15 p.m. when the streets were jammed with tourists strolling, shopping or looking for a restaurant or bar for evening festivities by the tranquil waters of the Gulf of Aqaba.
"There were just three loud bangs and people rushing around," British tourist Paul McBeath told Sky News. "Everybody is shaken."
Another witness said the Al Capone restaurant, one of the area's most popular spots, was destroyed. "The tables and chairs have gone, there is nothing left," Joseph Nazir, who owns a safari company in Dahab, told Britain's Press Assn. "Everybody is panicking, a lot of people are crying. We will be affected by this for a long, long time."
Hotels and guesthouses were filled with foreigners and with Egyptians celebrating the long Coptic Christian Easter weekend that coincided this year with Shem al-Nessim, the ancient holiday marking the first day of spring.
For years, Dahab was a popular, low-key haven for young Western and Israeli backpackers drawn by prime scuba diving and cheap hotels, which mainly consisted of huts set up along the beach. In recent years, a number of more upscale hotels have been built, including a five-star Hilton resort.
At least three Israelis were hurt in the attack, which sent a steady stream of cars back to Israel some 65 miles to the north. Israeli authorities said 1,800 of their citizens were in the Sinai at the time of the blasts. However, there were far fewer Israelis vacationing in Sinai than during last week's Passover holiday.
The Egyptian government has said the militants who carried out the bombings were locals without international connections, but other security agencies have said they suspect al-Qaida.
In Washington, a U.S. counterterrorism official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in compliance with office policy, said it was unclear who was behind Monday's attack.
Officials there have not ruled out al-Qaida involvement, but have no evidence showing that is the case, the official said. Nor do they have any evidence that bin Laden's tape was linked to the attack.