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23 July 2024

Egyptian bedouins spark riot in N. Sinai

By Agencies

Hundreds of angry Bedouins in northern Sinai peninsula on Tuesday protested the detention of their tribesmen, burning tires and hurling stones at government cars.

Their demands also include the resolving of bank loans for some 8,000 farmers, tackling unemployment problems by distributing lands to the Bedouins instead of giving them to investors from outside the region.

Two people were injured, and one of them was reported in critical condition, when the demonstrators hurled stones at a passing government car.

The protests took place in the Bab Sedout area, eight kilometers (five miles) south of the town of Rafah where the Bedouins announced earlier they would hold a peaceful sit-in and erected a tent, which authorities promptly dismantled.

Police officials in Cairo said four other cars were also damaged.

Imad Kharboush, head of the emergency unit at el-Arish hospital, said government official Desouqi Mohammed el-Naggar, 52, was in critical condition and suffering from a head concussion, while his driver was slightly injured.

Nasser el-Khalili, a government employee at the Rafah border crossing, said he and other employees were in a bus heading to work when they noticed that the road was blocked with burning tires. He took another route to work.

The protest is the latest incident to rock the impoverished northern Sinai, where some Bedouins make their living smuggling weapons, drugs and people across the border to Israel. Bomb attacks on tourists have resulted in heavy security crackdowns in recent years.

Thousands of Bedouins first in September burnt tires and blocked roads across the peninsula to protest what they perceive as mistreatment at the hands of the government.

Egyptian authorities have blamed Bedouins of aiding terrorists behind the deadly attacks since October 2004 against the Sinai resort towns of Sharm el-Sheik, Taba and Dahab that killed 125 people. In response to the attacks, officials have rounded up thousands of locals, a move that has intensified the Bedouins' feelings of mistreatment. (AP)