ISMAILIA: A group of drug smugglers have shot dead an Egyptian policeman in the Sinai Peninsula near Egypt’s border with Israel, security and medical sources said on Thursday.
"A group of smugglers were trying to smuggle drugs to Israel through the Egyptian border when policeman Tarek Abu Sareih Ramadan, 22, … tried to prevent them," one security source said. "They opened fire on him which led to his death," the source added. The shooting was on Wednesday evening.
Relations between the Egyptian state and the Bedouin in the Sinai desert have long been tense.
Bedouins, among nomadic Arab tribes in the Sinai, often complain of neglect by the Cairo government and say tough living conditions have led some of their people to resort to smuggling and other activities considered criminal by the state.
Egypt has faced pressure from Israel to tighten its security at the border and prevent the smuggling into the Gaza Strip.
In June, tribesmen angry at heavy-handed security tactics set tires ablaze near a pipeline supplying natural gas to Syria and Jordan. The state responded with a change in tactics, including the release of some detained Bedouin.
But some unrest has continued. Armed and masked Bedouin tribesmen hijacked a bus in late July from an industrial area in central Sinai.
In the past month during Egypt’s mass protested that ousted president Hosni Mubarak, the border area witnessed some of the most violent clashed between security forces and Bedouins.
Police also fought protesters in Suez and Ismailia, two cities straddling the Suez Canal that separates Sinai from the rest of Egypt.