Middle East

Eviction attempt turns deadly in Egypt's Nile island

Police use rubber bullets and tear gas against Cairo's al-Warraq island residents who resist eviction, killing one.

The police force withdrew from the island, postponing the operation indefinitely [Tarek Wajeh/AFP]

At least one person has been killed and dozens more injured on al-Warraq island in the Egyptian capital Cairo's river Nile during a police attempt to evict residents from an unlicensed building.

The health ministry said the victim - identified as Sayed Tafshan - was a resident of al-Warraq island, but did not elaborate on the circumstances of his death.

Locals marched with Tafshan's body through the island's streets, chanting: "We will sacrifice the martyr with our soul and blood". They also blocked the main road.

The police force withdrew from the island, saying that they were postponing the operation indefinitely, local media reported.

The interior ministry said there were up to 700 building and land violations recorded on al-Warraq island [Mostafa Darwish]

According to the health ministry, at least 19 protesters suffered respiratory distress and impacts from rubber bullets.

A statement by the interior ministry said at least 31 police officers were also injured in the clashes.

"The [police] force was taken by surprise as attackers gathered and used rubber bullets and stones," it said, adding that ten residents were arrested.

President's support

Sunday's police operation came as part of a campaign backed by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi aimed at demolishing unlicensed buildings and removing squatters from state land. 

The local media has for weeks been showing images of police and army troops demolishing buildings or commercial facilities.

On Sunday, the interior ministry said there were up to 700 building and land violations recorded on al-Warraq island.

Illegal use of state land is widely common in Egypt, as well as building on agrarian land in violation of the law.

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Source: News agencies