EU: Bombings 'Despicable'; Leaders Lend Support

The European Union on Tuesday condemned the "despicable" bombings at a popular beach resort in Egypt, and leaders across Europe said they were standing with the Egyptian government against terrorist attacks.

In a statement issued by Austria, the current holder of the rotating EU presidency, the 25-nation bloc said it "strongly condemns the despicable terrorist attacks in the Egyptian resort town of Dahab, which caused death and injuries to numerous people," and offered condolences to families of the victims.

"Once again, heinous terrorist forces have brought despair and suffering to innocent civilians," the statement said, adding the EU would "stand united with the government of Egypt to fight terrorism in all its forms."

Three nearly simultaneous bombings Monday evening hit Dahab, a Sinai seaside beach resort popular with Europeans and other foreigners, killing at least 24 people on streets filled with vacationers and Egyptians enjoying a long weekend marking a national holiday.

President Jacques Chirac of France joined other world leaders in condemning what he called an "odious terrorist act" that injured two French tourists and offered his support to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The German government condemned the bombings, which killed a German boy, injured his mother and wounded a German man, as acts of "blind hatred," and Chancellor Angela Merkel's office said she was "deeply dismayed."

EU security chief Javier Solana also denounced the attacks, calling them "heinous acts of senseless violence."

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy praised the Palestinian militant group Hamas for condemning the bombings, calling it an important development for the group.

"This attack was condemned by Israel, by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and for the first time condemned by Hamas," Douste-Blazy said on France 2 television. "This is a major development of foreign policy."

A spokesman for the Hamas-run Palestinian Cabinet, Ghazi Hamad, called the bombings a "criminal attack which is against all human values. We denounce the attack, which harmed Egyptian national security." Hamas had refused to condemn last week's bombing that killed nine people in an Israeli fast-food restaurant.

On Tuesday, Abbas again condemned the attacks, telling reporters in Turkey: "We can go nowhere with terror. We condemn terror."

Italy's President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi sent a message to Mubarak expressing "deep indignation" and solidarity.

"In front of these terrible acts, inspired by a blind desire of death and destruction, the international community is called on to strengthen its cohesion and determination in the fight against terrorism and its purpose of a clash of civilization," Ciampi said in a statement.

Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller also decried the attacks, which wounded five Danes, one seriously.

"I can only condemn that someone can do this kind of thing again and again," he told Danish public radio, calling the bombings "deeply tragic" both for Egyptians and tourists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed sorrow at the "barbaric explosions," which killed a 30-year-old Russian man and lightly injured a Russian woman. The Foreign Ministry said the bombings were intended to destabilize Egypt and the Middle East as a whole.

"I decisively condemn the terrorists attacks, which have not and cannot be justified," Putin said Tuesday in a statement released by the Kremlin. "I reaffirm Russia's unchanging solidarity with Egypt in counteracting terrorism and our intention through coordinated efforts to repel this direct threat to the international community. "

Egypt is a popular vacation destination for many Russians.

Belgium, Hungary, Romania and Czech Republic also condemned the attack and offered support to the Egyptian government.

Douste-Blazy said there was no reason to warn tourists against visiting Egypt, but added: "We must not let down our guard in the face of terrorism."