Egyptian police shot dead two Somali migrants today who tried to slip across the Sinai desert border into Israel, security sources said, as violence against migrants picked up at the sensitive frontier.
The killings bring to at least six the number of African migrants killed since mid-May at the border, Reuter`s reports.
Egypt for years tolerated tens of thousands of African migrants on its territory, but its attitude hardened after it came under pressure over the past two years to halt a steady flow of Africans trying to cross the border into Israel.
Its border with the Jewish state is a main transit route for migrants and refugees, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea, seeking work or asylum in Israel.
In November, US based Human Rights Watch called on Egypt to stop the shootings.
There were no killings between mid-December and mid-May, although the reason for the abrupt halt was not clear.
Egyptian security forces shot dead at least 28 migrants at the border last year, and deported hundreds of Eritrean asylum seekers back to Asmara despite objections from the UN, which feared they would face torture at home.
Egyptian police hold 37 after village killing
Police have arrested 37 Muslims and Christians from a village in Egypt’s Nile Delta in connection with the killing of a Muslim man and violence that followed witnesses and security sources said yesterday.
The 18-year-old Muslim died on Tuesday after a fight a day earlier, leading to the arrest of a Christian family of a father, mother and two sons, as well as three Muslim men, Reuter`s reports.
The dispute arose over the price of goods purchased at a shop owned by the Christian family, residents said.
After the funeral of the dead man, dozens of Muslims set ablaze two Christian-owned homes and pelted stones at Christians yesterday in the village of Mit el-Qureishi in the Nile Delta, north of Cairo.
That violence led to the arrest of 30 more Muslims.
All of the 37 arrested would be held for four days for investigation, a judicial source said.
A curfew was imposed on the village, security sources said.
Relations between Egypt’s majority Muslims and its Christians, mainly Copts, are usually calm but can become strained and sometimes erupt into violence over issues such as inter-faith relationships and land.
Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 77 million people.