Egyptians lift blockade of peace force base in Sinai

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By Yusri Mohamed / Reuters

CAIRO: Egyptians who had surrounded the base of an international peacekeeping force in the Sinai Peninsula lifted their blockade on Wednesday after negotiations with the Egyptian authorities, a security source said.

The Egyptians from the town of Rafah near the border with the Gaza Strip had blocked access to the base to put pressure on the government to release two of their relatives from prison. The authorities agreed to reopen the investigation into kidnapping charges brought against the pair, the source said.

The protesters, some of them armed, had blocked access to the base since Tuesday afternoon, using burning tyres and vehicles. It was the second time the base had been blockaded in a week. An eight-day siege by armed Bedouin, also demanding the release of relatives, was lifted last Friday.

State control has weakened in the Sinai Peninsula since Hosni Mubarak was swept from power last year.

The base belongs to the multinational force that oversees observance of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel through patrols of their heavily guarded frontier.

Peace force officials were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.



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