Egypt beefs up security in Sinai after 2 Bedouin were killed in clashes with police

Egyptian Police reported that after they found drugs in a vehicle on Saturday the passengers fired at them, as they tried to escape.



Security was increased Sunday in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, in southern Sinai, following the death of two Bedouins in clashes with police.

An official told DPA that security was beefed up to prevent any retaliatory attacks.

Army trucks carry Egyptian military tanks in El Arish - AP - August 9, 2012

Army trucks carry Egyptian military tanks in El Arish, Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. Photo by AP

Police said they found drugs in a vehicle on Saturday and the passengers fired at security forces as they tried to escape.

The two killed were identified as Suliman al-Ateeq and Mahmud Atwa. Following the firefight, gunmen blocked a highway in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Over the past year, Bedouins across Sinai have attacked police stations, blocked roads and occasionally taken hostages to demand the release of imprisoned relatives or to protest the government’s negligence of the peninsula.

Meanwhile, a military campaign, Operation Nisr (Eagle), was still under way in northern Sinai, according to presidential spokesman Yasser Ali. It was launched after an attack on a checkpoint in the border town of Rafah on August 5 in which 16 Egyptian security personnel were killed.

“The operation continues to cleanse Sinai. There are geographical considerations, among other things, that determine the course of this operation,” Ali said Saturday, after a meeting between President Mohammed Morsi and Defence Minister Abdul-Fattah al-Sissi to discuss the developments in Sinai.

Ali added that al-Sissi will issue a detailed report soon on the Sinai operation. “Egypt has the right to impose security and stability across Sinai,” he said.

However, witnesses said the operation was scaled back several days ago and tanks withdrew from areas near the borders with Israel and Gaza, awaiting the results of talks between a delegation of Salafist sheikhs, sent by Morsi, and local militant groups.

Rafah lies near the border with the Gaza Strip and Israel, a zone where Egypt’s military presence is strictly limited by its 1979 treaty with Israel.

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