CAIRO: An armed conflict that began Friday between two families in Aswan’s al-Sayl al-Refi village escalated on Saturday, threatening to turn into a wide-scale ethnic conflict.
The death toll from the violence rose to 23. Of those killed, 15 were from the Bani-Helal group and six were from the Nubian village Daboud, according to Egyptian newspapers.
Al-Badeel’s reporter in Aswan Ibrahim al-Agami told The Cairo Post that the conflict erupted when students from both ethnic groups exchanged verbal insults Friday, which escalated into an armed conflict between two families in the al-Sayl al-Refi area.
Security forces had attempted to intervene in the violence by firing teargas to disperse both sides.
The conflict between both sides has deep roots in the area given that both ethnic groups hold negative stereotypes of each other, said Agami.
Reports circulated in Egyptian media Saturday that Aswan’s governor has requested that the military provide troops to secure the area in the event that the conflict escalates further.
Ibrahim also said that security forces intend to hold reconciliation sessions between elders from both groups in order to contain the situation, instead of launching the usual legal procedures.
In a press statement issued Saturday, Egypt’s military spokesperson claimed that there are signs of Muslim Brotherhood involvement in the clashes. However, there has been no further confirmation that this is the case.