Clashes return between Qena’s Ashraaf and Hamidat tribes

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CAIRO: Armed clashes erupted on Thursday and Friday once more following a days-long calm between members of two leading tribes in the Upper Egyptian province of Qena.

"The two tribes continued to fire shots in the air in the morning, but the clashes have calmed down a bit since last night," Ahmed Kamal, member of Al-Karama Party and Qena resident, told Daily News Egypt on Friday afternoon.

"A very small group of people ventured to leave their homes to attend Friday prayers in Sidi Adel Rehim Mosque, which is usually packed on Fridays as it’s the biggest mosque in Qena,” he said.

Residents stayed in the safety of their homes while others left the province altogether, which eyewitnesses says has turned into a "Ghost city", since the beginning of the week when the clashes first started.

Witnesses say that the two tribes are armed with machine guns and heavy artillery, which they used against each other. They were deployed in the main streets, only members of their own tribe were allowed to pass through.

At least four shops were burnt to the ground during the clashes. Residents said that security forces avoided areas where the clashes took place and did little to stop them.

"One of the shops that was torched was right in front of the military hospital and the police club and security forces didn’t move a finger to save the shop or stop the clashes," Abdel Baaset Karim, Secretary General of El-Adl Party in Qena, told DNE.

"Police forces are sitting down sipping tea now while the city is paralyzed and the residents are terrorized," he added.

Karim and Kamal alleged that the security forces had plotted the stand-off with the heads of the two tribes to keep the clashes going and cause chaos, as part of the counter-revolution.

"The heads of the two tribes were both leading members of the now disbanded National Democratic Party and they’re more than happy to see the violence continue," said Kamal.

The clashes first began on Sunday when two microbus drivers belonging to the two tribes got into a fight. Thirteen were injured in the ensuing clashes and a total of 10 members belonging to the two tribes were arrested by police, some for unlicensed gun possession and use, while others were held for vandalizing shops.

The situations calmed down on Monday, as Qena Governor Adel Labib and security officials held talks with both tribes to help reach reconciliation and end the violence.

However Al-Ashraaf tribe has refused any kind of settlement, pending the fate of one of its injured members who was transferred to a hospital in Cairo in critical condition.

"If this man dies, it will be war and Al-Ashraaf will seek revenge, according to tribal traditions," said Kamal.

The clashes were reignited on Thursday once more following a fight between two drivers from both tribes.

Former MP Laila Khalifa and member of Al-Hawara tribe previously told DNE that the feud between the two tribes went far back, years before the 18-day revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

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