EL-ARISH, Egypt, (AP) – Egyptian police on Tuesday fatally shot a Sudanese woman and arrested a second one who was with an infant as they tried to cross into Israel, a security official said.
The shooting took place a few miles north of the Rafah border crossing point when the women from the wartorn Darfur region of Sudan refused to surrender to police, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to talk to the media.
Imad Kharboush, head of el-Arish emergency unit said the unidentified slain woman was shot three times, including once in the head.
The police failed to capture the traffickers, whom the women paid about $500 each for shelter and passage from Cairo across Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to the Israeli border, the security official said.
Fighting between rebels and government troops and allied militiamen in Darfur has killed at least 200,000 people and displaced 2.2 million since 2003.
Hundreds of African refugees hope to make it to Israel to seek political asylum and jobs there.
Dozens of African migrants, many of them Sudanese, have been detained over the past year and at least six have been killed this year by Egyptian border guards.
On Monday, a Sudanese man was shot in the stomach also near the Rafah crossing. He was part of a group of five Sudanese men trying to cross into Israel illegally. They cut the barbed wire at the boundary, and the four others got across. The wounded man was taken to the nearby El-Arish general hospital where he underwent surgery.
Africans began trickling into Israel in 2005, after Egyptian authorities quashed a demonstration by a group of Sudanese refugees. In recent months, the number has surged as word spread of job opportunities in Israel.
More than 7,000 African migrants have entered the Jewish state illegally in just over a year, including at least 2,000 since January, according to U.N. officials in Israel.
Israel has asked Egypt to do more to stem the tide of trafficking and weapons flow across Egypt’s volatile boundaries in the Sinai — both the border with Israel and the adjoining boundary separating Egypt and the coastal Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas.
Separately, Egyptian police said Tuesday it uncovered two underground weapon caches containing some 550 pounds of TNT explosives, 89 anti-tank land mines, and automatic rifles, just south of the Rafah crossing. The weapons were believed to have been stored to be smuggled into Gaza.