04 September 2010

Egyptian police shoot migrant trying to enter Israel

ISMAILIA, Egypt, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Egyptian police shot dead an African migrant as he tried to cross the border into Israel on Friday, a security source said, bringing the migrant death toll at the sensitive frontier to at least 31 this year.

Egypt has come under pressure from the Jewish state to stop the flow of migrants into its territory, but has also been criticised by human rights groups troubled by the mounting body count of mostly unarmed Africans seeking work or asylum.

Egyptian forces have killed at least 26 people trying to cross the border this year. Traffickers, who sometimes hold migrants for ransom, killed another five after a group of Ethiopians and Eritreans tried to escape from them last month. [ID:nLDE67M11K]

On Friday police arrested more migrants, identified as Sudanese, while others escaped in the direction of Egypt, a security source added.

The Sinai peninsula is a major transit route for migrants, many of them fleeing conflict or seeking jobs. Smugglers also use it to ferry drugs and weapons into Israel and a variety of goods into the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian security forces say they fire at migrants only after repeated orders to stop are ignored, and that in some cases smugglers have opened fire on border police. (Reporting by Yusri Mohamed; writing by Alexander Dziadosz; editing by Andrew Roche)