23 killed in Egypt’s tribal clashes on Saturday

CAIRO,5 April-2014 (Xinhua): At least 23 people were killed and more than 30 others injured in overnight tribal clashes in upper Egypt’s Aswan province, official MENA news agency reported on Saturday.

23 killed in Egypt’s tribal clashes on Saturday

23 killed in Egypt's tribal clashes on Saturday

The overnight gunfight erupted on Friday evening and renewed early Saturday morning between two big tribes, Bani Helal Tribe ( Halayla) and Nubian Daboudiya Tribe, in eastern Aswan.

The clash dated back to Wednesday, when a group of school boys from one tribe harassed and flirted with a girl from the other, which later led to minor fighting between the two sides that escalated to the involving of the big families.

The gunfight renewed early morning on Saturday when the Nubian tribe set fire on several houses of their opponents, causing a bloodbath and turmoil at their Al-Sayl al-Rifi village. Most of the victims were from Bani Helal.

Witnesses said that the fighting families used machine guns and Molotov cocktails during, while security forces fired tear gas to disperse them, noting it was impossible for ambulances to reach the scene as the two families were firing excessively.

In reaction, Interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim headed to Aswan on Saturday and met with leading members of the tribes to contain the situation.

In the meeting held at Aswan Governorate headquarters, Nubian leading figures requested a curfew and a tight security cordon to be imposed on the village to avoid further confrontations.

Meanwhile, Aswan Governor Mostafa Yousry held an emergency meeting with security and military officials, as well as members of syndicates and popular figures, to discuss methods of containing the ongoing strife between the two tribes.

Following the meeting, Yousry decided to close 17 schools in the village until further notice. Aswan Health Ministry officials have also raised emergency alert at hospitals just in case.

The military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali said on Saturday that the newly-appointed Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi approved treatment of the injured people at military hospitals.

Security forces have been deployed in the area to prevent further skirmishes between the two sides, evacuate the nearby houses for the safety of their residents and close the village’s biggest marketplace.

Traditionally most of the big tribes in southern Egypt own weapons and solve disputes without involving the state.