French tourist killed, 20 wounded in Egypt attack

CAIRO, (Reuters) – A bomb killed a French teenager  and wounded at least 20 other people in a crowded square near a  popular tourist bazaar in the Egyptian capital Cairo yesterday,  officials said.

The blast was the first fatal attack on tourists in Egypt  since bombs killed at least 23 people at an Egyptian resort in  the Sinai peninsula in 2006. Sunday’s bomb went off near the  14th-century Khan el-Khalili market in eastern Cairo, where  tourists shop for trinkets and sit at outdoor cafes.

“I was standing in front of my store selling to the tourists  and we heard a big explosion,” a shop owner told Egyptian state  television. “We ran away, and when we came back we saw bodies  lying on the ground.”

The Health Ministry said a 17-year-old French girl was  killed and 13 French tourists, three Saudis and four Egyptians  had been wounded. The German Foreign Ministry said one German  had been injured.

Egyptian state new agency MENA quoted security officials as  saying the bomb had exploded under a bench in a garden in the  square, and that a second bomb had been defused by security  forces.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but security  sources said two suspects had been taken into custody.

Islamic militants have hit Egypt’s tourist industry in  recent years through bomb and shooting attacks, though there has  been a lull since 2006.

The bombing is embarrassing for the government, which has  tried hard to project an image of security and stability, but  angered public opinion at home and across the Arab world by  helping Israel to enforce a blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza  Strip, and failing to condemn its recent onslaught on the  Palestinian territory more forcefully.

Security sources had earlier told Reuters that four people  had died — two tourists and two Egyptian street children. A  similar blast in the same area killed three tourists in 2005.

The office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a  statement in Paris that one French national had died and seven  others had been wounded.

The attack happened just after dark as people were gathering  around coffee shops to watch a televised soccer match, a  witness, who did not give his name, told Reuters.

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