02 December 2009

Egypt police kill African migrant at Israel border


CAIRO, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Egyptian police shot and killed an African migrant on Tuesday as he tried to slip across the Sinai peninsula desert border to Israel, a security source said.

Egyptian police have stepped up efforts in recent months to control the frontier with Israel following an increase in human trafficking through Egypt. At least 17 migrants have been killed at the border since May, the latest one two weeks ago.

The Sinai border is on one of the main routes for African migrants and refugees, almost all unarmed, seeking work or asylum in Israel. Egyptian police say the smugglers who ferry migrants to the border region sometimes fire on security forces.

The security source said police did not know the dead man's nationality, but he appeared to be in his early twenties. Eritreans are the largest group of people trying to cross into Israel from Egypt, but Ethiopians and Sudanese also make the trek.

Analysts and aid workers say the flow of migrants from the Horn of Africa through Egypt to Israel has increased in recent months as it has become more difficult to travel on other northward routes, such as via Libya to Europe. (Reporting by Rasha Kamal; writing by Yasmine Saleh; editing by Tim Pearce) ((yasmine.saleh@reuters.com ; +20 2 2578 3290; Reuters Messaging: yasmine.saleh.reuters.com@reuters.net))