Five alleged al-Qaida members who entered Egypt with forged passports and are currently hiding in a mountainous area in the Sinai Peninsula are plotting terrorist attacks, Egyptian authorities said Friday.
Interior Ministry official Col. Wagdi Ramzy said that the authorities had provided photocopies of forged passports of the five suspected militants to all security checkpoints at the entrances to south Sinai resorts.
"The interior ministry received urgent news from inside and outside Egypt that there are some members of al-Qaida planning to carry out attacks in Sharm el-Sheik and Dahab," said Col. Ramzy, who oversees tourist security in the north of the Sinai peninsula.
The three resort towns of Sharm el-Sheik, Taba and Dahab have witnessed a string of deadly terrorist attacks that have claimed the lives of 125 people since October 2004.
The five alleged militants, whose nationality is not known, are believed to be carrying explosives, Col. Ramzy said.
Police believe that the suspects are Egyptians, based on the photographs in the forged passports, said a police source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give statements to the press, the AP says.
The southern part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula has been on high security alert since Wednesday after Israel warned its citizens of imminent terror attacks. Hundreds of Israeli tourists started leaving the Sinai through the Taba border crossing following instructions from Israeli authorities not to travel to the popular vacation destination.