ISMAILIA, Egypt, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Six African migrants were shot dead near Egypt’s border with Israel late on Friday, a security source said, the highest migrant death toll in one day at the border in recent years.
Four were killed by smugglers and two were shot by Egyptian police, the source said. In September 2009, police killed four migrants in a single incident.
The Sinai peninsula is used as a transit route by African migrants seeking work or asylum in Israel. Smugglers also use it to ferry drugs and weapons into Israel and a range of goods into the Gaza Strip.
The source said smugglers had been holding about 50 Ethiopians and Eritreans for ransom and one migrant was able to seize a gun from a guard and free his fellow captives.
The smugglers shot at the fleeing migrants as they chased them through villages near the border, killing at least four and wounding at least five, the source said.
Egyptian security forces later killed two more of the fleeing migrants after they refused orders to stop as they tried to cross the barbed wire separating Egypt and Israel, the source added. Sixteen migrants were arrested.
The violence brings the number of migrants killed near the border this year to at least 28, of whom 24 were shot by Egyptian security forces and four by smugglers. (Reporting by Yusri Mohamed; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz in Cairo; Editing by Andrew Dobbie)