Gunmen attack police post in Egypt’s Sinai


Egyptian security sources say at least three gunmen attacked a police checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula yesterday in an area beset with smuggling and simmering tensions between police and Bedouin tribes.

None of the police at the post were injured in the attack some 40 km (25 miles) from the Suez Canal, the sources said, requesting customary anonymity.

Reuters adds one source said one of three attackers was shot in a subsequent firefight and later died in hospital, while a second source said around six Bedouin men approached the post in two trucks and that the men in the second truck fled. The second source said an attacker was only injured.

In April, Egyptian security forces detained nine Bedouin in the Sinai peninsula on suspicion of involvement in cross-border smuggling and arms dealing. Violence between police and the formerly nomadic Bedouin flared last November when police shot dead four Bedouin and tribesmen briefly kidnapped a group of police.

Bedouin say they are shut out of jobs in the lucrative tourism and petroleum sectors in Sinai, which produces a significant share of Egypt‘s oil from offshore fields and is dotted with resorts popular with tourists.

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

Egypt has also taken a tough line again smugglers and migrants seeking to move goods and people across the borders with both Israel and the Gaza Strip. Police shot dead at least 28 African migrants at the border last year.

The government stepped up security measures against smugglers in April after prosecutors accused Lebanese group Hezbollah of planning attacks in Egypt through a group of 49 men.

Pic: Egyptain troops in Sinai