Egypt: deadly violence in Suez; Sinai moves towards insurgency

Two people were shot dead by police in Suez and more than 400 injured in protests across Egypt Feb. 2, sparked by the deaths of 74 people in a riot following a football match in Port Said the previous day. In Cairo, thousands of protesters marched on the interior ministry, where security forces fired tear gas to keep them back. Protesters hold the military-led authorities responsible for the bloodshed in Port Said, with Muslim Brotherhood militants and others charging the violence was a provocation organized by Mubarak-loyalsists. (BBC World Service, BBC News, Reuters, Feb. 3)

Bedouin tribesmen meanwhile abducted 25 Chinese workers in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to demand the release of relatives detained over bombings in the peninsula between 2004 and 2006. The Chinese nationals—technicians and engineers working for a military-owned cement factory—were abducted on their way to work. The Bedouin protesters are demanding the release of five held in connection with an attack on the tourist resort of Taba in 2004, part of a series of bombings claimed by a previously unknown Islamist group calling itself al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad. The Chinese are currently being held in a tent in Lehfen where protesters have been blocking the highway for the past three days. (AFP, Feb. 1)

On Jan. 24, a group of Bedouin militants took control of the Aqua Sun resort complex near Tabai, demanding a ransom of four million Egyptian pounds (approximately $662,000). No tourists were at the site when it was seized, but Egyptian staff members were taken hostage. (Haaretz, Jan. 24)

See our last posts on Egypt, the Arab revolutions and the Bedouin struggle.

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  1. Egypt on edge as revolution anniversary nears
    Although details are still sketchy, Bedouin tribe in the Sinai Peninsula is said to have kidnapped 17 Egyptian border police after one tribesman was killed Feb. 10. (Bikyamasr, Feb. 10) In a separate incident, Bedouin tribesmen kidnapped three Korean women and their Egyptian translator, intercepting their tour bus near Sharm el-Sheikh. (Reuters, Feb. 10)

    Egypt’s army meanwhile announced it will deploy troops across the country after activists called for “civil disobedience” to mark the anniversary of Mubarak’s ouster. “The Armed Forces decided to deploy their troops in the various Egyptian governorates to protect private and public property, secure main roads and nab outlaws and thugs,” the official news agency MENA said. (Middle East Online, Feb. 9)