Conflicting reports on situation in Salloum

Government officials gave conflicting statements on the security situation at the Salloum land port between Libya and Egypt on Friday. A customs source said that the authorities had lost control over the port, while a security official stressed that calm had returned to area.

General Magdi Saleh, the director of Salloum port, told Al-Masry Al-youm that crossing and shipments via Salloum port have returned to normal, and that the port is open in both directions.

The customs source, meanwhile, said that the authorities, including the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry, completely lost control over the crossing after the Bedouins tightened their grip on the passage of people and goods.

The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the Bedouins used bulldozers to remove the checkpoint established by the police and the armed forces.

The source explained that the role of armed forces unit is currently limited to securing government employees only, while the Bedouins are overseeing the entry and exit of people and goods. The source said that arms, drugs and other smuggled goods are moving through the port at a large scale.

The source said the Bedouins set fees on goods and people, charging LE1,000 for each individual and LE500 for pick-up trucks. They are demanding profit on drugs, medicines and weapons smuggled in large trucks, the source added.

Border police shot dead an 18-year-old man at the Salloum crossing near Egypt’s border with Libya on Thursday. Some residents said Fathi Abdel Basset was killed at customs, while other accounts claim he was shot while driving a vehicle transporting cigarettes from Libya after he allegedly bypassed a customs check.

Salloum residents have been enraged by the death, which follows the killing of two people Tuesday during clashes with military forces amid protests over tolls. Protesters burned down a Salloum military intelligence building on Tuesday in response to the deaths.

Local residents were protesting on Tuesday a toll increase from LE450 to LE600 for trucks on the international road between Egypt and Libya. The army then intervened to open the road, which led to the clashes that killed Anwar Abdel Maksoud, 14, and Abdel Moula Mahmoud Beshry, 23.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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