CAIRO: Clashes between families in the Upper Egyptian governorate Sohag escalated Tuesday as Central Security Forces dispersed residents with tear gas and rubber bullets, according to eyewitnesses.
Clashes between a family from the town of Gerga and another from Naga’ Owais village left three dead and 21 severely injured. They are now receiving treatment in Sohag General Hospital, and the Educational and University Hospitals.
"The families of those who died in the clashes decided to end their sit-in blocking the railways, but said they will come back at night to close it off again until the morning until all their demands are met," photographer Sherif Adel El-Boushy told Daily News Egypt over the phone from Gerga.
The families demanded the arrest of all those who were involved in killing their children.
"Attempts by military police to end the clashes and ease the tension were all in vain,” said El-Boushy. “The situation is very tense and the head of Sohag Security Directorate who visited the city yesterday [Monday] was almost assaulted by Gerga residents."
The Ministry of Interior said in an official statement released Tuesday that a brawl between two tuk tuk drivers, one from Gerga and another from Naga’ Owais, led to both their deaths on Saturday.
"The family of the driver Montasser Hassan gathered in front of Gerga police station to receive the dead body then stormed the police station again after the funeral," the statement said.
After sunset, residents of Naga’ Owais village stormed Gerga and clashes between the two sides continued for 10 hours using live ammunition, Molotov cocktails and sticks until the military command imposed a curfew.
Clashes then erupted between Gerga residents and members of the security and military police early Sunday when the latter tried to control the situation. Residents then stormed the Gerga police station. All weapons inside were stolen.
"Looters stole around 60 pieces, but some Gerga youth formed public committees and returned over 45 pieces back to the police," El-Boushy said.
Activist at the scene Mahmoud Ahmed said that thousands marched in the funeral of the first victim of the clashes Mohamed Nady.
"Security procedures took a long time which led to a protest by his family, but the crisis was averted and the funeral started at dawn on Sunday, then was followed by a sit-in by the families of the victims on the railway," Ahmed said.
He added that central security forces and military police failed to end the sit-in even though they attacked the protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas bombs to disperse them.
He said residents were angered by the way media ignored the incident and the security’s failure to resolve the original problem.