At least 15 migrants shot dead while trying to enter Israel
Published 16/11/2015 | 02:30
At least 15 Sudanese migrants have been killed after getting caught in the crossfire of a gun battle between Egyptian security forces and Bedouin smugglers.
Security officials said the tragedy occurred as the migrants were about to illegally enter Israel from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Eight others were wounded in the crossfire, according to sources.
Another eight migrants were arrested unhurt by the Egyptians and were being interrogated.
The officials had earlier said that the 15 Sudanese migrants were killed by security forces as they approached the wire fence separating Sinai from Israel, at a border point some 17km south of Rafah, an Egyptian town on the border with the Gaza Strip.
Details of the circumstances of their death were only made available later yesterday.
Most of the wounded were in serious condition after they suffered wounds to the chest and stomach, said officials.
The death of the 15 ended a lull in attempts by migrants to cross into Israel from Sinai, mostly because of stricter surveillance and stepped-up military operations in the area by Egyptian security forces battling Islamic militants, led by a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group. Yesterday's death toll is among the highest in a single incident involving Sudanese migrants in Egypt since 2005, when Egyptian riot police used water canons and truncheons to brutally clear a ramshackle encampment set up by Sudanese refugees in an upscale Cairo neighbourhood.
The migrants had hoped to draw attention to their demands to be resettled in a third country.
Israel's Interior Ministry says more than 45,000 African migrants and asylum seekers, including many Sudanese, are in Israel.
Many say they are fleeing conflict and persecution and are seeking refugee status. Israel says they are economic migrants whose growing numbers threaten the country's Jewish character.