Egypt releases Cairo bombing suspects

Egypt releases Cairo bombing suspects

CAIRO: The Egyptian government has ordered the release of 7 people who allegedly took part in the Cairo bombing of a local market in February 2009, which left one French teenager dead and around 20 people injured. The market attack heightened the Egyptian government’s state of security and saw a massive crackdown by security forces on foreign students studying in the country.

According to the official MENA news agency, three Belgians, two Palestinians and two Egyptians are being released from custody after prosecutors were unable to pin the attack on them, a judicial source said. The Belgians and Palestinians will be deported, MENA added.

Cairo has blamed al-Qaeda for the attack, arguing that a cell from the network had formed in Egypt and this was their first attempt at attacking tourist sites in the country. The 7 suspects were arrested in May last year, months after the attack.

The bomb was home-made and full of nails. It went off in the early evening at the Medieval Khan el-Khalili market area, the popular tourist bazaar. A second bomb was discovered, but police detonated it without causing more injuries.

Students living in Cairo were accused by the Egyptian government of being part of a never-before heard group called the Islamic Army of Palestine and were rounded up in the months that followed the attack. Police and security reported at the time that the students were arrested with weapons and ammunition in their possession.

Egypt has had some recent tourist sites attacked. Between 2004 and 2006, the country’s Red Sea coast in Sinai was targeted on multiple occasions, largely due to the Israeli visitors to the area. More than 100 people were killed in the attacks, and the government has blamed Bedouin of planning the attack in cohorts with al-Qaeda.

The same Caior bazaar was hit in 2005, when three people, an American and French tourist were killed along with one Egyptian. The attackers in that blast were arrested only hours later as they attempted to board a bus in downtown Cairo, but threw their materials out the window, which alerted police.

In February this year, an alleged attack was carried out against a Jewish Synagogue in downtown Cairo, although details are murky. The accused attacker was arrested later in the month after police said he was heading to the American Embassy to seek asylum.