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Europe

Egyptian Police Hold 11 After Deadly Bomb Attack in Cairo

Egyptian police are reported to have detained 11 people for questioning over a bomb blast near a market in Cairo which killed a French teenager and injured more than 20 people on Sunday, Feb. 22.

Empty streets in the area around the bomb explosion

Officials cordoned off the area around the blast

Reuters news agency on Monday quoted Egpytian police sources saying they had detained 11 people for questioning about the bomb blast in Cairo, the first such attack against tourists in the city since April 2005.

New agencies reported that police have stepped up security around tourist locations in Cairo in the aftermath of the bombing.

The bomb, which went off near Cairo's crowded Khan-el-Khalili market, killed a 17-year-old French girl and wounded more than 20 people. The injured are reported to include 13 French tourists, one German national, three Saudis and four Egyptians.

Egyptian police and other rescue workers gather outside the historic Hussein mosque, pictured in background, in the Khan el-Khalili market

The blast occurred in a part of Cairo popular with tourists

The dead French teenager was reported to have been on a school trip with 41 other students.

The injured German citizen left the country on Monday after being treated for light wounds, German news agency DPA quoted the interior ministry in Berlin as saying.

The bomb, reported to have been planted under a bench, ripped through a street lined with cafes and restaurants in the 14th century Khan-el-Khalili market, a major tourist atttraction.

It was not clear who was responsible for the attack or if tourists were deliberately targeted.

A second bomb, which failed to explode, was safely detonated by a bomb disposal team, AP reported.

Abdel-Monem Said, director of the state-funded centre Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Reuters on Sunday he did not think the attack was the work of a well-organized group.

"They were primitive devices and one didn't work," he said. "The destruction was not large and it seems to be the work of some angry people."

Europe, Middle East condemn attack

On Monday, Saudi Arabia and other nations in the Middle East joined European nations and NATO in condemning the attacks.

Saudi Arabia's official SPA news agency quoted an unidentified official saying the country "strongly condemned" the bombing.

Earlier, French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed "deep sorrow" over the attack, while Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the French government "strongly condemns this criminal act whose blind violence shows its absurdity."

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said he was repelled by the bombing.

"There can be no justification for this cowardly and pointless attack," he said in a statement issued by the alliance's headquarters in Brussels. "NATO will continue to work with Egypt and with the other members of our Mediterranean Dialogue to cooperate in the fight against the scourge of terrorism."

Fears for Egpyt's tourism sector

The bombing has raised fears the incident could damage Egpyt's tourism industry which accounts for about seven percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Egypt was rocked by a spate of violence against Western tourists by Islamic militants in the 1990s, dealing a blow to its tourism sector estimated to employ around 12 percent of the country's workforce.

In 2005, the Khan-el-Khalili neighborhood was the target of a bombing which killed two tourists and wounded 18 others.