“Together we will confront and defeat this scourge that knows no boundary and respects no creed,” Rice said.

WORLD CAPITAL, July 23, 2005 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – The deadly car bombings that rocked the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh Saturday, July 23, drew immediate condemnation from across the globe.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemned the “senseless” bombings and vowed to work with Cairo to combat terrorism, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

At least 88 people were killed, including eight foreigners, and 200 others wounded in a string of bomb attacks that hit Egypt’s “city of peace”.

“I condemn the horrific terrorist bombings in Sharm El-Sheikh, our thoughts and prayers are with the families and innocent victims from many nations who suffered in this senseless attack,” said Rice in a brief statement.

Rice, in Israel ahead of a visit to the West Bank to meet Palestinian leaders, said she had spoken with her Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Abul Gheit.

“At this difficult time of testing, the United States stands with our friend and ally Egypt. Together we will confront and defeat this scourge that knows no boundary and respects no creed,” she said.

The attacks on the popular Sinai resort at the peak of the tourist season were the deadliest in Egypt in eight years and officials feared the death toll could rise further.

The crucial tourism sector in Egypt is still recovering from the October 2004 bombings that targeted the Hilton hotel in Taba as well as two other resort camps in Nuweiba, killing 34 people, including Israelis.

“Sorrow and Anger”

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has reacted with “sorrow and anger” to the Sharm bombings, a UN official said early Saturday.

“The secretary general has reacted with sorrow and anger to the news of the multiple car bombs in the Sinai peninsula, which have cruelly struck the brave Egyptian nation on its National Day,” an unnamed UN spokesman said in a statement.

“Once again, in this tragic month, he condemns the use of terror and indiscriminate violence against civilians, which no cause or belief can possibly justify,” added the spokesman.

The official said Annan was sending his condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, the people and government of Egypt and leaders of all other countries whose citizens have been killed or injured in the attacks.

Shock

The Palestinian Authority also issued a swift condemnation of the bombings.

“We firmly condemn these attacks and offer our condolences to the government and people of Egypt, and our best wishes for the swift recovery of the wounded,” chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said in a short statement.

Russia also joined the condemnation chorus, sending its condolences to the families of the victims.

“We strongly condemn this criminal act and hope that the terrorists will be found and severely punished,” the foreign ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site.

“The Russian foreign ministry expresses its deep sympathy for the relatives and friends of the victims,” it added.

Japan, meanwhile, voiced shock over the bombing spree, saying extremist attacks could never be justified.

“The government of Japan is gravely shocked by the serial explosions”, said foreign ministry press secretary Hatsuhisa Takashima.

“Terrorism cannot be justified for any reason, and the government of Japan firmly condemns atrocious terrorism that victimizes many innocent people,” he said in a statement.

So far there have been no reports of any Russian or Japanese among the dead or injured.

Israeli Help

In a related development, Israel offered to send army rescue teams to Sharm El-Sheikh to help emergency crews deal with the carnage caused by the wave of bombings.

Specialist units had been put on standby for deployment to the Sinai peninsula, long a favorite haunt for Israeli holidaymakers, Israeli military sources said.

At least one Israeli was among the more than 200 people wounded in the blasts but the foreign ministry said there were no immediate plans to order the evacuation of the 10,000 nationals believed to be vacationing in Sinai resorts at the peak of the summer holiday season.

Despite repeated warnings from the authorities large numbers of Israelis continue to make the short trip across Israel’s southern border.

Last month Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told Israel’s largest circulation daily Yediot Aharonot that security forces had smashed a militant cell that was planning to attack Israeli holidaymakers in the Sinai.

“Two of the cell members were killed in clashes with the Egyptian security forces, and two others were captured,” Mubarak said in the June 21 interview.

“We have no interest in Israelis getting hurt, and we are doing the maximum to prevent terrorist operations.”