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Swiss Wrap Up Egypt Attack Inquiry

March 10, 2000

BERN, Switzerland (AP) _ Swiss authorities on Friday closed their inquiry into a 1997 attack on tourists in the Egyptian city of Luxor, complaining of poor cooperation from Egyptian officials.

The Egyptians never returned the personal possessions of the Swiss tourists shot by Islamic extremists, and provided insufficient evidence from their own investigation, said the Swiss federal police report.

A number of questions remain unanswered, including the number of attackers and even whether 62 or 63 people were killed, the report said.

The report said the investigation could be reopened if any new evidence is forthcoming, but that it would be impossible to obtain further information in a reasonable amount of time.

The report said it took Egyptian authorities six months to answer requests for legal assistance in November and December 1998. The information eventually given provided little help, the report said.

Egyptian government officials were not available Friday, the Islamic Sabbath, to comment on the Swiss report.

Since the massacre on Nov. 17, 1997, the Egyptian government has arrested scores of members of the Islamic Group, which claimed responsibility for the attack.

But no charges in connection with the attack have been brought against any of those arrested. The government has said that men who carried out the attack were killed by police.

The group has largely been dormant since the attack, weakened by a split in its leadership on whether to halt its campaign of violence to topple the secular government of President Hosni Mubarak.

Thirty-six Swiss were among the 58 tourists shot or stabbed to death at the temple of Queen Hatshepsut. The report said four Egyptians were among the victims, but that it was unknown whether a fifth slain Egyptian was a victim or an attacker.

The extremists aimed to attack a tourist site of major importance and destabilize the Egyptian government, Swiss officials said.

Swiss officials have said that, based on Egyptian conclusions, the attack appears to have been financed by Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden.

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