Man killed in Egypt raid on Nile island squatters

AFP

© AFP | Egyptians run for cover from tear gas during clashes with security forces in the Nile island of Warraq in Giza province, north of the capital Cairo, on July 16, 2017

CAIRO (AFP) – One person was killed and 50 people were injured in clashes on Sunday as security forces tried to evict squatters from a Nile island, the government and witnesses said.

The incident on Warraq island in Cairo came amid a government campaign to remove encroachments from state property and land, an interior ministry statement said.

A health ministry statement said one man was killed and 19 people were injured, and the interior ministry said 31 policemen were hurt in the clashes.

A large force that had headed to the island was met by “some of the encroachers who gathered to protest against the implementation of the removal orders,” the interior ministry said.

It said protesters fired birdshot and threw stones at officers, prompting police to use tear gas to disperse them.

Witnesses including a former head of the island’s municipality told AFP they had not received advance warning about the move.

In May, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered a campaign to recover state-owned land which had been encroached upon.

The authorities announced in June that the government had retaken control of more than 919.4 thousand feddans, or around 386,150 hectares (95,390 acres).

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Reuters

 

Egyptians shout slogans against the government during the funeral of Syed Tafshan, who died in clashes with residents of the Nile island of al-Warraq island, when security forces attempted to demolish illegal buildings, in the south of Cairo, Egypt July 16, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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By Amina Ismail

CAIRO (Reuters) – At least one person has been killed and dozens injured in clashes between police and residents of a Nile island in Cairo, when security forces attempted to demolish illegal buildings, the ministry of Interior said in a statement.

The violence erupted when police arrived at al-Warraq island on Sunday morning to eradicate encroachments on state-owned land, the statement said.

“The forces were surprised by demonstrations by some of the trespassers, who had assaulted the forces by firing birdshots and throwing stones … Which pushed the forces to fire teargas to disperse the protesters and to control the situation,” the statement added.

At least 37 policemen and 19 residents were injured in the clashes, the statement said. Security forces withdrew from the scene to minimize losses, a police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, told Reuters.

“The mission failed from A-Z … there hasn’t been proper coordination,” he said.

The island residents say they built their houses on this land over 30 years ago.

“We were born on this island … we have proof of ownership, our parents were born here.. they want to give it to the Emirates to build hotels,” said Marzouk Hany, 20, butcher, as he was marching along with hundreds in the funeral of the man who was killed.

In May Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi began a campaign to demolish thousands of buildings that were alleged to have been illegally built on state-owned land.

“There are islands in the Nile … according to the law no one should be present on these islands,” Sisi said in a speech in June. He ordered the authorities to make it a priority to reclaim the islands in the same speech.

About 90 thousand people live on the 1300 acres al-Warraq island, said Mahmoud Jaffar Salman, a former member of parliament to Giza, which the island is part of.

(Additional reporting by Mohamed Abdellah, Haitham Ahmed and Omar Fahmy; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

 

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