New clashes have erupted in central Sinai between security forces and the local Bedouin on Wednesday night.
Eye-witnesses say that armed nomads attacked the el-Auja commercial crossing between Egypt and Israel as employees were leaving, causing police to fire back.
An anonymous security source said that police in armoured vehicles were guarding the passageway when they suddenly heard gunshots, prompting them to fire back to prevent gunmen from attacking the crossing.
The last ten days have seen intermittent clashes between police and local Bedouin who have accused security forces of holding Bedouin hostages in order to coerce wanted Bedouin fugitives to turn themselves in. Government officials, in turn, blame tribesmen for recent attacks on security personnel in the peninsula and for attempting to destroy pipelines carrying natural gas to Israel, Jordan and Syria.
The clashes have led to the closure of the el-Auja passageway several times.
The Sinai Bedouin are expected to hold an international press conference in el-Mahdiya village, in the heart of Sinai, to discuss their on-going problem with Egyptian police. The conference is expected to draw huge media attention.
A local chief has said the conference aims to ensure that irresponsible statements, such as those recently made by the North Sinai governor Mourad Mowafi, are not delivered in the future. Mowafi sparked local uproar after he called Bedouins who engage in clashes “outlaws”.
Thousands of Sinai residents marched on Tuesday night through the Bedouin areas in central Sinai. The protesters decried the failure of tribal chiefs and the interior minister to reach a solution to the conflict at their meeting yesterday at the ministry headquarter.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.