CAIRO: A security guard working for the Arab Contractors Company was wounded in a random shootout Saturday afternoon in the Safa neighborhood of Rafah near Egypt’s border with Gaza.
Ahmed Fathi, 21, was shot in the leg and transferred to Al-Arish Hospital for treatment. He was hit by a number of assailants in a private vehicle who were firing shots in the air.
“He wasn’t the targeted, he was caught in the cross fire of a dispute between tribal members, North Sinai-based journalist and activist Mustapha Singer told Daily News Egypt.
The Arab Contractors Company is undertaking the construction of an underground barrier on the border between Egypt and Gaza.
“These types of incidents with gunfire in the streets are becoming quite regular in the area, North Sinai Tagammu Party General Secretary Ashraf El-Hefny told Daily News Egypt.
Last week, two police officers were killed and four others were injured as they were transporting prisoners across North Sinai and came under attack by armed assailants.
Security authorities are still on the search for the one prisoner still at large, Salem Ali Salem from the Tarabin tribe.
Residents feared an increased security crackdown in the wake of Salem’s escape and though the campaigns have increased, authorities have not come down as forcefully as they have in the past.
Singer said, “It’s a dangerous situation for the state and residents, there are many here who have been convicted in absentia and they could form an armed militia to protect themselves; this could lead to a face-off with losses on both sides.
“So it seems that the Interior Ministry is relying more on gathering information to catch Salem rather than instigating a dangerous situation, he added.
However, three Bedouins were arrested in the town of Sheikh Zowayed 5 km from Rafah Sunday as they stood in the street.
Egypt had begun work on this underground barrier since the turn of the year with the purpose of blocking the underground tunnels between Rafah and Gaza. The barrier was the object of severe criticism because the tunnels are seen as the only lifeline for the blockaded Gaza Strip and it was perceived in some quarters that Egypt was building it under pressure from the US and Israel.
President Hosni Mubarak defended the decision to build the wall in a speech to mark Police Day last month, saying it was being constructed “not to appease anyone but to protect our nation from terrorist plots like the ones that took place in Taba, Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab and Cairo.
Spokesman for Hamas – which rules Gaza – Mosheer El-Masry told reporters after Mubarak’s speech, “The underground wall does not serve the interests of any of the Arabs, the only benefactors are the Israeli occupiers because it will kill the last lifeline of the people of Gaza after two and half years of the siege.