Armed group surrounds international peacekeeping base in Sinai

An armed group blocked access to the headquarters of a peacekeeping force in Egypt's Sinai to pressure the government to release two of their kin from prison, security sources said on Wednesday, the second such protest at the base in two weeks.

They sealed access to the base in Rafah, 10 kilometers from Egypt's border with Gaza, since Tuesday afternoon, blocking roads with burning tires and small vehicles, the sources said.

Sinai residents have long complained of unfair treatment and government neglect, and press their demands with roadblocks and occasional abductions of tourists, who are usually released soon afterwards.

Such incidents have become more common since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak last year loosened the grip of state security and deepened lawlessness in the isolated Sinai.

The base belongs to the multinational force that oversees observance of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel through patrols of their heavily guarded frontier.

The site was surrounded by a group of armed Bedouin for eight days last week until their siege was lifted following negotiations with the Egyptian army.

Peace force officials were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday

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