Residents, police clash on Egyptian isle
In its statement, the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, said the residents attacked the police force with firearms, birdshot guns and rocks and that the officers responded with tear gas. It said up to 700 building and land violations we
CAIRO — Egyptian police on Sunday fired tear gas to disperse a rock-pelting crowd of residents on a Nile River island in Cairo, part of clashes that left one person dead and 50 others injured, according to authorities.
The Health Ministry said one resident was killed and that 19 others were wounded in the clashes on al-Waraq island on the northern fringes of the Egyptian capital. It did not say how the man was killed.
An Interior Ministry statement said 31 policemen and contractors who arrived on the island were injured in the clashes. The injured policemen included two generals, it said. It also acknowledged the death of one islander.
Ten residents were arrested, the Interior Ministry added.
Video clips posted on social media networks showed hundreds of angry islanders, mostly young men, at the man’s funeral, marching through farm fields while chanting, “We will sacrifice the martyr with our soul and blood.”
The violence broke out when police attempted to evict residents staying or utilizing state land without permission, part of an ongoing nationwide campaign launched by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to retake state property illegally controlled or run for profit by individuals or commercial enterprises.
The local media have for weeks been showing images of police and army troops demolishing buildings or commercial facilities illegally built or operating without a license.
In its statement, the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, said the residents attacked the police force with firearms, birdshot guns and rocks and that the officers responded with tear gas. It said up to 700 building and land violations were recorded on the island.
Illegal use of state land is common in Egypt, as well as building on agrarian land in violation of the law.
In a separate development, Egypt’s military said its jet fighters destroyed 15 all-terrain vehicles carrying weapons and explosives along with “criminal elements” after they were detected getting ready to cross the Libyan border into Egypt.
A military statement Sunday said the warplanes had monitored and “dealt” with the vehicles over the previous 24 hours, but it did not say whether the airstrikes targeted them while on Egyptian soil. It also did not mention Libya by name, making only a veiled reference to the North African nation.
Egypt’s porous desert border with Libya has been the source of serious concern to authorities, who contend that Islamic militants and smugglers use it as their route into Egypt. They maintain that some of the militants fighting security forces are trained and sponsored by extremist groups in Libya, where chaos has prevailed since a 2011 uprising.
In Sinai, the scene of a long-running insurgency by Islamic militants, the military said its jet fighters blasted a vehicle laden with a “large amount” of explosives in the mountainous center of the mostly desert peninsula, killing four members of an “extremely dangerous terrorist cell” that was planning an attack. It gave no further details.
The militants in Sinai are led by an affiliate of the Islamic State militant group. Their attacks have grown more deadly and frequent in recent months. They have also expanded from northern Sinai, the insurgency’s epicenter, to the mainland, targeting minority Christians in a series of attacks since December that left more than 100 people dead.