Egypt rejects UN criticism of ‘refugee’ shooting in Sinai
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon - AP

CAIRO: After United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged Cairo to investigate the killing of five Sudanese “refugees” at the borders with Israel, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the “illegal infiltrators” initiated the shooting.

“Unfortunately, the approach of rushing to release statements and criticism without relying on accurate information or checking official data released by the Egyptian government to explain the circumstances of the incidents being criticized,” the Egyptian statement said.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for Ban, said Monday that the Secretary-General is “deeply troubled” by the report on the killing of the Sudanese citizens, and called on the Egyptian authorities to “shed light into these tragic events, ensure accountability and prevent a recurrence of these events.”

For his part, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abou Zeid said that while there are demands to exert concerted international efforts to counter “terrorist operations” growing globally, “the performance of certain states in securing their borders in accordance to its national and international obligations is criticized.”

The international demands to curb “terrorism” include “enhancing border control and securing frontiers to prevent the infiltration of terrorist and criminal elements or arms smuggling,” Abou Zeid added.

He called on Ban and his assistants to read a statement released by military spokesperson Mohamed Samir Monday after the shootings.

The military statement “clarifies beyond doubt that the Egyptian border guards were dealing with illegal infiltrators on its northeastern international borders, and that the Egyptian law enforcement forces fired warning shots with which the infiltrators did not comply and initiated opening fire,” Abou Zeid said.

Samir, the military spokesperson, said a bullet penetrated the back of a conscript when the Sudanese nationals “initiated the fire,” posting a picture of the injury.

He added that the six other Sudanese people in the group were transferred to a hospital due to their injuries, and five others, also Sudanese, were referred to the investigation authorities to reveal information on the smugglers who arrange the risky travel.

Under similar circumstances, 15 African people were killed in North Sinai, where an affiliated of the Islamic State group is active, while attempting to migrate to Israel Nov. 15, Reuters reported. Sudanese ambassador to Cairo Abdel Mahmoud Abdel Halim dispatched a consulate delegation to Arish in North Sinai to learn more information on the incident, according to a Sunday statement by the Sudanese embassy in Cairo.

In June, Egyptian forces thwarted an illegal immigration attempt into Israel by 26 people who hold African nationalities.

Egypt’s borders with Israel routinely witnesses incidents of drug-smuggling and illegal immigration. In February, six Sudanese people were arrested attempting to access Israel illegally. In a separate incident in the same month, two suspected smugglers were killed at the Egyptian-Israeli borders in an exchange of fire from the two countries and the smugglers, Haaretz reported.

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