03 August 2009

Egypt police kill African migrant at Israel border

EL-ARISH, Egypt, 31 july 2009 (Reuters) - Egyptian police shot dead an African migrant trying to cross the border into Israel on Friday, security and medical sources said, the latest killing in an upsurge of violence at the sensitive frontier.

The man, who was shot in the chest and right leg, was announced dead on arrival at Egypt's Rafah hospital, a medical source said. His nationality was not immediately known.

A 20-year-old Eritrean was arrested as the pair tried to breach barbed wire between the two countries, a security source said. Police ordered the men to stop, opening fire when the migrants failed to do so.

The state news agency MENA later said 14 Eritrean and Ethiopian migrants had been arrested trying to enter Israel from different points along the border. MENA did not provide the dead man's nationality or identity.

At least seven African migrants have been killed at the border since mid-May, after a six-month lull. At least 28 migrants were killed at the border last year.

Analysts and aid workers say the migration route from the Horn of Africa through Egypt to Israel has seen increased migrant flow as other routes, such as via Libya to Europe, become more difficult.

Eritreans are the single largest group of migrants attempting to cross into Israel.

Monthly migrant arrests by Egypt at the border have surged, rising five-fold in May to 55 and then doubling again to 114 in June and 160 in July, security sources said. That compares to just six arrests in January.

Cairo, which had for years tolerated tens of thousands of African migrants on its territory, has deported hundreds of Eritrean asylum seekers back to Asmara despite objections from the United Nations, which feared they could face torture.

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