Second policeman shot by smugglers along border with Israel

An Egyptian policeman was injured in a shootout with smugglers on Egypt's border with Israel in the Sinai Peninsula, Egyptian security sources said on Monday.

The incident represents the second of its kind in less than one week.

According to a security official, the policeman–21-year-old Mohamed Farag–was shot while trying to stop smugglers attempting to traffic several African migrants across the border into Israel.

The official said that, before escaping, the smugglers had shot at the policeman after the latter attempted to confront them. Egyptian security agencies, he added, have stepped up efforts to find the culprits.

The injured policeman was immediately taken to hospital in the nearby city of Rafah, where he received medical treatment.

Authorities complain of rising instances of attempts by African migrants to breach Egypt's border with Israel, often with the assistance of Bedouin smugglers. Many African migrants hope to find employment in Israel.

Israel claims that nearly 10,000 African migrants have illegally crossed into its territory from Egypt within the past few years. International rights organizations, for their part, have accused Egyptian security forces of using excessive force against undocumented migrants attempting to make the crossing.

Egyptian authorities say the practice of shooting trespassers–or anyone attempting to cross the nation's borders illegally–is guaranteed by its sovereign right to protect national security.

Since the beginning of this year, Egyptian authorities have killed nearly 23 African nationals attempting to traverse its border with Israel. In 2009, Egyptian police killed at least 19 African migrants under similar circumstances.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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