Tuesday, November 11, 2008

REUTERS: Egypt bedouin protest over killing, fire in air

Tue 11 Nov 2008, 9:23 GMT

ISMAILIA, Egypt, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Hundreds of bedouin in an Egyptian village fired into the air and burnt tyres overnight in protest about police killing one bedouin man and wounding another, security sources said on Tuesday.

"There are 700 bedouins at least taking part in the protest. Some opened fire heavily in the air," said Moussa Salem, a bedouin who was taking part in the demonstration.

He said the protesters in a village in the Sinai peninsula near the Egypt-Israel border had also burned tyres and barricaded a road with rocks, while police had pulled back from the area. Two bedouin sources who asked not to be named said the protesters had torched a police vehicle.

Security sources said the demonstration erupted after police opened fire on Tuesday on a vehicle driven by "two bedouin suspects" when they ignored orders to stop and tried to flee. One was killed and the other wounded.

State news agency MENA identified the dead man as a drug dealer, although bedouin sources denied that.

Relations between the police and bedouin have been tense for a long time and deteriorated further in 2004, when police detained thousands on suspicion of possible links to a group that had bombed Sinai tourist resorts.

Egypt has blamed a series of attacks on tourist targets in Sinai between 2004 and 2006 on a group of bedouin with militant Islamist views. Bedouins resent the mistrust and complain of police harassment.

Northern Sinai is home to about 200,000 formerly nomadic bedouin. It is one of Egypt's poorest areas with high unemployment levels. (Reporting by Yusri Mohamed; Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Matthew Jones)


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