Egyptian authorities agree 3-day truce with Sinai Beduins

Comes after clashes near Israeli border wound Egyptian security officer.

Beduins Egypt 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Beduins Egypt 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Government authorities agreed to a three-day truce Saturday with Beduins in the Sinai Peninsula to end recent clashes with security officials, police said. The announcement came a day after authorities mobilized hundreds of policemen in eastern Sinai when Beduins trying to cross into Israel wounded an Egyptian security officer. Capt. Mohammed Badr said that under the truce negotiated by local authorities, the Beduins agreed to avoid the Israeli border for three days and return to their homes in central Sinai. In return, the Beduins demanded the release of locals detained in the past several days and an investigation into the deaths of two Beduins Wednesday in clashes with police. Badr said these demands would be taken into consideration. The Middle East News Agency reported the two Beduins were killed when their car flipped over near a police checkpoint close to the Israeli border. Police said in the report that they exchanged fire with the two men after they failed to stop at the checkpoint. The deaths triggered an anti-government protest Thursday near the Israeli border by more than 1,000 Beduins, who complained of government mistreatment and called on Israeli border guards to allow them in as refugees. The soldiers kept their distance to avoid a confrontation. The peninsula's local residents, mainly Beduins, some of whom still follow a nomadic lifestyle and pay little heed to official authority, living by tribal justice, have always complained government mistreatment and they are poorly served as citizens. Some of Sinai's Beduins make a living growing cannabis in valleys between rugged and largely inaccessible mountains _ which has led to armed clashes between growers and security forces dispatched to eradicate their illicit crops. Salman Ayed, a 40-year-old who grows hashish in one of Sinai's valleys, said he has been running from police for 14 years because he refused a police request to provide them information on fellow Beduins. "I have six children to feed," he said. "Let them provide decent job opportunities for us, and we will quit such kind of work." Many more rely on smuggling _ including the smuggling of illegal workers into Israel and the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip. Egyptian authorities have blamed Beduins for aiding terrorists who have carried out a series of deadly attacks since Oct. 2004 against the Sinai resort towns of Sharm el-Sheik, Taba and Dahab that have killed 125 people. In response to the attacks, officials have rounded up thousands of locals, a move that has intensified the Beduins' feelings of mistreatment.