| Pakistani activists at a Lahore rally in favour of President Pervez Musharraf and against the London bombings. (AFP)
Islamabad, July 26: A day after circulating names and pictures of five Pakistanis suspected of carrying out the weekend bomb attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt today said no Pakistanis were involved in the blasts that killed over 64.
Egyptian security forces searched valleys and mountains in the south of the Sinai peninsula for the perpetrators.
“The Pakistani government was informed last night that no Pakistani national was involved in the terrorist acts that rocked Sharm el-Sheikh,” Egyptian ambassador Hussein Haridy said in a statement issued in Islamabad.
Haridy’s statement came amid serious concerns triggered in Pakistan by Egyptian media reports that nine Pakistanis were suspected to be behind the blasts, who reportedly entered Egypt on July 5, but later disappeared.
Referring to a report that appeared in the Egyptian daily a-Ahram, which quoted security sources as saying the Pakistanis were illegal workers and had probably fled to Israel along desert tracks, foreign ministry spokesperson Naeem Khan said he did not think they could have had any connection with the blasts.
Haridy said at no time did the Egyptian government accuse Pakistanis of involvement in the bombings. The Egyptian ambassador adding his country had cordial relations with Pakistan and both countries would continue to co-operate in the war on terror.
Egyptian investigators combing the Sinai peninsula are concentrating on possible links between the Sharm el-Sheikh bombings and similar attacks on resorts in the peninsula last October, security sources said.
Sources named one of the prime suspects as Youssef Mohamed Sobhi Badran, a Bedouin, and said he may have died at the wheel of a vehicle which blew up in front of the Ghazala Gardens Hotel on Saturday.
But a senior interior ministry official said: “It’s too early to say whether it (the body) is Youssef Badran.”
The Egyptian government blamed the October attacks on a group of Sinai Bedouin led by a man of Palestinian origin from the north Sinai coastal town of el-Arish.
Today, aircraft flew over the south of the Sinai peninsula to locate what state news agency MENA called the remnants of terror.
“Anti-terrorism units are probing valleys and rugged mountain areas in Sinai ... in pursuit of fugitives who are probably implicated in the bombings,” the agency said.
At least five groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks on hotel and shopping areas, which bore a strong resemblance to last year’s bombings at Taba and at two beach camps frequented by Israelis.
They range from professed affiliates of the al Qaida to a previously unknown Sinai-based group protesting against the Egyptian government’s treatment of local people after the Taba bombings.
Human rights groups say police detained some 2,500 people after the attack on the Hilton hotel in Taba and mistreated many of them. The government says that number is exaggerated and it investigates all allegations of torture.
The latest claim, from the Tawhid and Jihad Group in Egypt, could be more credible as it was posted on an Islamist website often used by the al Qaida in Iraq, but it was not possible to verify the authenticity of the undated statement.
Egyptian police are investigating the possibility that Mohamed Fulayfel, the brother of one of the Taba bombers, drove a suicide car bomb into the Ghazala Gardens Hotel on Saturday.