Tripoli, April 12
There is tension in the Egyptian border town of Salloum after clashes between protestors and army troops on Tuesday . . .[restrict]over higher fees being levied on trucks crossing into Libya. Two people, one of them a schoolboy, were killed and others injured when troops fired on some 200 protestors who were trying to block the border crossing.
Following the killings local residents on Wednesday blocked the main road in the town and set fire to car tyres. Eyewitness said that “only Libyan families’ cars can be seen entering or leaving Egypt.” Trucks were prevented from passing and their goods reportedly seized.
According to local residents, the army has now withdrawn from Salloum but it is reported that protesters are demanding an apology for the deaths from Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of Egypt’s ruling military council.
An official at the local offices of the Egyptian health ministry Mahmoud Zahran, named the dead as Anwar Abdel-Maqsood Abdul-Hai, aged 14, and Mually Bushra, 22. Their bodies had been transferred to the town’s hospital, he said, adding that a number of other people had also been injured in the shooting.
An eyewitness said that army troops initially fired shots into the air to disperse protesters who were throwing stones at them.
The army intervened on Tuesday when youths blocked the road through the city in protest against the increase of fees paid by small trucks used to transport goods from Libya into Egypt. Fees have gone up by £E450 to £E600.
Reports say that in the protests two men were detained at the Salloum crossing and their goods confiscated. The Egyptian news service MENA quoted a security source as saying young protestors in Salloum had refused to accept the new procedures at the border crossing and were breaking the law by protesting and hindering work there.
Local Salloum residents claim that this was not the first case of goods being confiscated because of rows over the increased fees.
There are reports, however, that some local officials have submitted their resignations in protest at the killings. It is also reported that local residents are calling the slain youngsters martyrs, demanding that those in charge of the Salloum crossing be replaced.