Father says Egyptian police killed son in clashes

1.jpgA 15-year-old Egyptian boy died on Tuesday of gunshot wounds sustained during anti-government protests between Sinai Bedouin and Egyptian police a day earlier near the border with the Gaza Strip, his father said.

Mohamed Arafat told Reuters police had shot his son, Ouda, in the chest and pelvis during the protest in the village of Massoura near the border town of Rafah.

Arafat said the protest was against government plans to evacuate houses near the border with Gaza. Egypt has already evacuated buildings within 50 metres (yards) of the border for security reasons but denies planning further measures.

“Do not call me Mohamed Arafat anymore. Call me the father of the martyr,” he shouted. “What is happening here is injustice beyond your imagination.”

In the late afternoon several hundred Bedouin again took to the streets in Massoura, setting fire to tyres and disrupting traffic along the main road, Bedouin and security sources said.

Riot police in armoured cars pursed the demonstrators, who were protesting against the killing of Arafat and a government decision to evacuate houses near the border, they said.

Several members of parliament went to Massoura on Tuesday and tried to calm people down by telling them that no one would be evacuated from their home.

Witnesses and security officials said 16 civilians were injured on Monday in clashes that lasted about three hours. Some of them were shot and others suffered teargas inhalation.

Security officials and hospital sources said on Tuesday that 20 policemen were also injured. Three of them were rushed to intensive care, they said.

Footage of the clashes obtained by Reuters on Tuesday showed hundreds of protesters, many of them children and youth, throwing stones at riot police and battering an empty traffic checkpoint. The video shows a police motorcycle ablaze and the demonstrators setting fire to tyres.

Police marched on the crowd with armoured cars, fired teargas canisters and opened fire in the air.

Egyptian border guards now use houses within 50 meters from the Gaza Strip to monitor the border in an attempt to curb the smuggling of weapons, drugs and contraband into Gaza. Officials said the owners of the houses were compensated.

The protesters were also demanding title to the farmland they work, permits to build houses, pardons for sentences imposed by military courts, the early release of imprisoned Bedouin and a waiver of debts to the state agricultural bank.

The Bedouin of north Sinai have become increasingly assertive about their grievances against the government in Cairo and have staged several large protests this year, mainly to demand the release of detainees.

The police detained thousands of Bedouin after a series of bombings at tourist resorts in Sinai between 2004 and 2006.

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