Egyptian protesters clash with police over lawlessness

AFP – Egyptian police clashed Sunday with thousands of demonstrators who attacked government buildings in North Sinai to protest the murder of a man by armed robbers, witnesses said.

Police fired tear gas on the swelling crowds, which one security official estimated at 7,000 people, after they stoned local government offices in the coastal town of El-Arish.

The demonstrators had gathered earlier to protest what they said was lawlessness in North Sinai after a 50-year-old man was shot dead by thieves who tried to commandeer a truck filled with food.

North Sinai, which borders the Gaza Strip and Israel, is an underdeveloped region where smuggling thrives.

Unlike South Sinai, which is dotted with tourist resorts, the north has seen relatively little development, leading to frustration among Bedouin inhabitants who complain of discrimination.

Residents have long complained of lawlessness in the area, which witnesses regular clashes between Bedouins and police.

In November 2008, Bedouins besieged police stations along the border with Israel and took hostage dozens of officers to protest the deaths of three Bedouins who were shot by police and left close to a rubbish dump.