Sinai tribes make security pledge

Tribes in the Sinai Peninsula have renewed their allegiance to Egypt's president and pledged to cooperate with security, in a move which could be aimed at easing a security crackdown.

    Mubarak has pledged to punish the Red Sea resort bombers

    Rights activists reported last month that Egyptian police

    had detained 2500 people in Sinai and tortured many of

    them in the hunt for those behind the 7 October bombings targeting Israeli tourists in Taba

    and two other resorts, which killed at least 34 people.

    Egypt's official

    Middle East News Agency reported the news from Sinai

    on Monday.

    It said the tribes signed a letter affirming "their complete

    commitment not to shelter any person wanted by security", and

    said they would cooperate by reporting anyone under suspicion.

    The security pledges were in a letter signed by tribal

    shaikhs and other notables at a meeting in Ras al-Sudr in Sinai.

    Although it is not uncommon for tribal and community leaders

    to vow allegiance to President Husni Mubarak, activists say such

    acts are usually associated with events such as new terms of

    political office and rarely include pledges to help security.

    Torture allegations

    Ahmad Saif al-Islam Hamad, from the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre,

    said the oath of allegiance appeared "directly linked" to the

    Sinai bombings and their aftermath, and might in part be an

    attempt by the tribes to ease the recent security campaign.


    Thirty four people were killed in
    the resort attacks

    The report by human rights groups in November, which quoted

    victims and witnesses, said police had hanged men by their arms

    for hours, with electrodes attached to their toes, and burned

    their skin with devices that looked like oven lighters.

    It also said security forces had taken 140 Sinai women

    hostage in the hope their families would turn in their menfolk.

    The government says it does not condone torture and punishes

    torturers when it comes across abuses.

    Egypt has blamed the blasts on a Palestinian and three Sinai

    Bedouin, saying there was no indication the bombers were linked

    to al-Qaida, as Israel and the United States have suggested.

    Most of the alleged bombers and accomplices come from al-

    Arish in north Sinai, close to the border with the Gaza Strip,

    the government said.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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