June 24, 2009 / 9:31 AM / 10 years ago

Egypt police kill African migrant at Israel border

CAIRO, June 24 (Reuters) - Egyptian police shot dead an African migrant at the Israel border on Wednesday, as violence at the sensitive frontier resumes after a near 6-month lull, security sources said.

The migrant, who was unarmed, was shot around dawn as he tried to slip across barbed wire into the Jewish state from Egypt’s Sinai desert, the sources said. Police opened fire when the migrant ignored orders to stop and instead tried to flee. 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 rising numbers of Africans trying to cross the border into Israel.

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 could face torture at home.

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.

The migrant killed on Wednesday, thought to be in his 20s, was the third killed since mid-May at the border, a main transit route for migrants and refugees seeking work or asylum in Israel.

Security sources said the man carried no identity documents but was thought to be from an African country. Many of the migrants who have attempted to cross the border have been from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Security sources said police also detained two Ethiopian women, aged 18 and 19, as they tried to cross into Israel. A third migrant from Burkina Faso was injured by barbed wire and detained in a separate attempt to cross the border. (Writing by Cynthia Johnston)

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