Egypt releases 36 Bedouins held after Sinai bombings

Arish—Egyptian authorities on Monday released 36 Bedouins detained since a series of bombings in Sinai resorts in 2004-2006, as part of an effort to ease tensions in the peninsula, security sources said.

The release was the fourth in two weeks, following a meeting between Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, Bedouin tribal leaders, and Sinai MPs. So far, 65 Bedouins have been released.

Families of the released detainees gathered in front of the security directorate in northern Sinai to celebrate, eye witnesses said.

Security sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that tribal leaders have pledged to return the released should they commit any other offenses.

One of the released detainees said he had been held in custody for 17 months without facing any legal charges.

Security sources said the ministry is in the process of reviewing the files of 200 other detainees held in various prisons in Egypt.

The Bedouins were among thousands of Egyptians detained by police after a series of bombings at tourist resorts in south Sinai. Relations have grown more strained recently with sporadic clashes with security forces.

Authorities accuse Bedouins of involvement in weapons and drug smuggling from Sinai to both Israel and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, and are building barriers along the Gaza border to stop the smuggling into the Palestinian enclave.

Bedouins on the other hand complain of neglect by the government and say they have not experienced the benefits of the booming tourism in Sinai. They say tough conditions have led some of them to resort to smuggling and other activities considered criminal by the state.

Among the demands of the Bedouin elders is that the government should investigate several policemen who the Bedouin say were involved in the killing of three tribe leaders in 2007.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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