Hargeisa, 3 July 2009 – Egyptian police shot dead two Somali migrants on Thursday who tried to slip across the Sinai desert border into Israel, security sources said, as violence against migrants picked up at the sensitive frontier.
The killings bring to at least six the number of African migrants killed since mid-May at the border.
Egypt for years tolerated tens of thousands of African migrants on its territory, but its attitude hardened after it came under pressure over the past two years to halt a steady flow of Africans trying to cross the border into Israel.
Its border with the Jewish state is a main transit route for migrants and refugees, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea, seeking work or asylum in Israel.
In November, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch called on Egypt to stop the shootings. There were no killings between mid-December and mid-May, although the reason for the abrupt halt was not clear.
Egyptian security forces shot dead at least 28 migrants at the border last year, and deported hundreds of Eritrean asylum seekers back to Asmara despite objections from the United Nations, which feared they would face torture at home.