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Washing timer triggered bomb

THE crude bomb that killed a French teenage girl and injured 24 others at a Cairo bazaar was made of gunpowder and detonated by a washing machine timer, according to an Egyptian crime lab.

Washing machine timers have been used in the past in Egypt to detonate explosives, including a series of bombs used against tourist resorts between 2004 and 2006.

Sunday's bomb was housed inside a plastic jar and placed under a stone bench next to the Hussein mosque and the Khan el-Khalili bazaar.

A group of French students on a school trip had gathered near the site when the device exploded.

The teenagers had spent the day wandering the Khan el-Khalili's narrow alleys.

The market is usually packed with tourists and Egyptians who buy trinkets from shops selling everything from belly-dance outfits to pharaonic statues, or drink tea and smoke waterpipes at the numerous cafes.

The crime lab report said the device weighed a half a kilogram and was filled with gunpowder, rocks and pieces of metal.

The blast was the first attack targeting foreigners in Egypt in three years.

The Interior Ministry said an investigation is ongoing and a number of suspects were being interrogated.

All the staff and guests at the Hussein hotel, next to the blast site, have also been questioned.

Most experts believe the attack to be the work of a small, previously unknown extremist group, without any connection to the militants that waged war against the Egyptian state in the 1990s.

The country's mainstream Muslim Brotherhood has condemned the attacks, along with the Al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, a militant group involved in the 1981 assassination of former president Anwar Sadat that has since renounced violence.

The injured French students returned to Paris yesterday.

One of the Egyptian victims, a 14-year-old boy remains in the hospital in critical condition.

Parents of the French teenager who was killed in the bomb attack arrived in Cairo along with three other relatives on Monday to retrieve the body of their daughter.

An airport official said that the tearful mother, 48, and father, 51, were received by the French ambassador in Egypt and top tourism ministry officials.


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