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Middle east

Seven accused over bazaar bombing are released

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-03

Egypt's state security prosecutor has ordered the release of seven people held in connection with a fatal bazaar bombing in Cairo last year, in which a 17-year-old French tourist (pictured) was killed.

AFP - Egypt's state security prosecutor on Monday ordered the release of seven people accused over a deadly bazaar bombing in February 2009 that killed a French tourist, the official MENA news agency said.

Three Belgians, two Palestinians and two Egyptians have been ordered released, MENA said, without providing further details.

A judicial source said that the Belgians and Palestinians are to be deported.

Twelve people had been detained in connection with the attack, Egyptian state television said.

Five are still being held pending further investigation. They are French, British and Egyptian nationals, the television said.

A British diplomat earlier told AFP that the British suspect had been released in recent weeks, before retracting the statement.

The interior ministry had accused the suspects of having ties to Al-Qaeda and of carrying out an attack on February 22 last year at the famed Khan al-Khalili bazaar in Cairo.

Last year, the ministry said it had arrested one French woman of Albanian origin, one British man of Egyptian origin, two Palestinians, one Belgian man of Tunisian origin and two Egyptians.

But reports of further arrests and the nationalities of suspects has fluctuated since the attack.

A 17-year-old French girl was killed and 24 people, mostly tourists, injured in the bazaar bombing, the first deadly attack on tourists in Egypt since 2006.

The attack struck in the early evening in a street lined with cafes and restaurants in Khan al-Khalili, a 1,500-year-old market that is one of the Egyptian capital's main tourist attractions.

The interior ministry had said members of the cell, which called itself the Islamic Army of Palestine and was led by two Egyptians living abroad, were found in possession of weapons and explosives.

It said some members of the cell had travelled to the Gaza Strip through cross-border smuggling tunnels to receive military training there.

Some suspects said they had also been instructed to carry out attacks against tourist resorts and fuel pipelines in the Sinai peninsula.

A Belgian suspect told police during his interrogation last year that he had been instructed to accompany Al-Qaeda operatives from Belgium to France to carry out an attack there, the ministry said.

Human rights groups accused police at the time of torturing suspects and of carrying out illegal arrests.

Egypt saw a spate of deadly bombings in Sinai resorts between 2004 and 2006 which the authorities blamed on militants loyal to Al-Qaeda.

Twenty people were killed when triple suicide bombings rocked the Sinai diving resort of Dahab in 2006.

Some 70 people were killed in multiple bomb attacks on Sharm el-Sheikh in July 2005. At least 34 died in simultaneous bombings against resorts in Taba further up the Red Sea coast in October 2004.

Date created : 2010-03-03