STONE-THROWING

NOVEMBER 11 2009 16:46h

Sinai Bedouins injure 11 Egyptian police

A Bedouin Nomad

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In April, Egyptian police said they shot dead a Bedouin in north Sinai and seized ammunition allegedly destined for Gaza.

Bedouins hurled stones at Egyptian police, wounding 11 of them, when they raided a village to seize cement due to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip, police officials said on Wednesday.

The clashes broke out Tuesday and continued overnight when police raided a village in the Sinai peninsula to seize some 200 tonnes of cement due to be smuggled into the Israeli-blockaded territory, the sources told AFP.

Some Bedouins fired warning shots at the policemen before pelting them with stones, while others set ablaze tyres to block roads and prevent the law enforcement agents from retreating.

Eleven policemen were wounded and the police retaliated by firing teargas.

Bedouin tribal chiefs intervened to put an end to the clashes, which lasted five hours.

Bedouin have repeatedly clashed with police in the region -- a transit point for goods being smuggled to Gaza, which has been under tight blockade since Hamas seized power in the Palestinian enclave in 2007.

Products are smuggled through a network of tunnels linking the Egyptian border town of Rafah to the impoverished Palestinian territory.

The Bedouin have accused police of discrimination, harassment and unlawful arrests and maintain that the goods seized by the authorities are for their own personal use.

Relations between the two sides have been tense and were marked by several confrontations last year after Bedouins briefly kidnapped more than 70 policemen in retaliation for the killing of four tribesmen in November.

In April, Egyptian police said they shot dead a Bedouin in north Sinai and seized ammunition allegedly destined for Gaza.