CAIRO ø Egyptian authorities face Bedouin unrest after a massive crackdown
against a suspected Islamic insurgency network in the Sinai Peninsula.
Egyptian sources said tribal leaders have been alarmed by the detention
of thousands of Bedouins in wake of the Oct. 7 Islamic suicide bombings in
Taba and Nueiba, in which 33 people were killed. About 5,000 residents of
northern Sinai were said to have been arrested in connection with the
bombings, which targeted tourist sites frequented by Israelis.
Many of the detainees were said to have been tortured in Egyptian
prisons and denied access to their attorneys and families. They said that
nobody has been formally charged, Middle East Newsline reported.
Egypt's Interior Ministry reported the arrest of nine major suspects,
all but one of them Egyptian nationals. The exception was a Palestinian with
family in the Gaza Strip and said to have been a member of Islamic Jihad.
The ministry said the Palestinian headed the Islamic insurgency cell.
Several tribal leaders have warned that they would retaliate against
unless the torture ended and the Bedouins released. The sources said
the families of some of the detainees were pressing the leaders to storm
Three Egyptian human rights organizations released a report that
asserted that many of the arrests took place in the El Arish area along the
Mediterranean coast. In late November, the organizations ø the Hisham
Mubarak Law Center, the Egyptian Association Against Torture and Al Nadim
Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence ø released a report
that quoted detainees as saying that they were hung from the ceiling and
subject to electric shocks.
Egyptian authorities have not responded directly to the report. But other
Egyptian sources said about 800 people were detained.