Violent village clashes mar third day of Eid in Upper Egypt

Townships in the Sohag and Luxor governorates witnessed a turbulent third day of Eid al-Adha as gunfights broke out, leading to 18 injuries, blocked roads and extensive financial damage.

Feuds and gun proliferation have long turned relatively minor differences into bloody exchanges among different factions, often neighbors, in Upper Egypt. Security forces tend to enlist local intermediaries or armed groups to resolve these feuds, which are often beyond authorities' control.

Clashes broke out between residents of the village of Nagaa al-Baraka, located in Qurna township north of Luxor, and residents of the village of Asmant, located in Naqada township north of Qena, after a brawl between a resident from each village at the Naqada market.

Heavy gunfire between different village residents soon broke out and a number of hit-and-run accidents were reported, resulting in the destruction of a number of vehicles. The Qena – Luxor western desert road and the roads between the two villages were closed. Traffic on the Cairo – Aswan agricultural road west of the Nile River was also disrupted by the clashes.

Fears of kidnappings and revenge attacks tainted Eid celebrations; however, no residents of either village were reported as killed.

Village residents said village heads were acting as mediators in hopes of resolving the dispute. The brawl reportedly began after a Asmant village resident assaulted and held hostage a Nagaa al-Baraka village trader, then letting him go. Nagaa al-Baraka village residents reportedly responded to the incident by similarly assaulting and holding hostage an Asmant village resident.

Meanwhile, in Sohag Governorate, clashes began again between residents of the Awlad Yahia and Awlad Khalifa villages, bringing the total injured to 18. Security forces have imposed a curfew and the Sohag governor has formed a committee to determine the causes of the crisis and hold a reconciliation meeting before the situation escalates further.

Fighting in Sohag has currently halted since one person was shot, said Sohag Security Director Major General Abdel Aziz al-Nahhas. He said that security authorities have appealed to heads of the Hawara tribe from Deshna township in Qena, who are related to the Awlad Yahia village residents, to act as mediators in the reconciliation process. Furthermore, security authorities have secured all entrances and exits to and from the Awlad Khalifa village.

Sohag Governor Major General Waddah al-Hamzawy has formed a committee to study the reasons behind the fighting between the two villages so as to find a quick solution and reconcile the residents. The committee includes a number of well-respected figures in Sohag, especially those from the Dar al-Salam township.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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