Sat, Aug 04, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Egyptian soldiers beat refugees to death in front of Israelis at border: TV station

AGENCIES , JERUSALEM AND CAIRO

Egyptian soldiers killed four Sudanese refugees, beating two to death in front of horrified Israeli soldiers, an Israeli TV station reported on Thursday, screening what it said was an army surveillance video and interviews with the soldiers.

Egyptian police said that authorities arrested two Sudanese refugees on Thursday, seriously injuring one when he scuffled with police.

However, Egyptian police Captain Mohammed Badr did not report any deaths.

Channel 10 TV said that the incident happened late on Wednesday night.

In the video, the refugees are seen running toward the Israeli border and an unidentified soldier says in a distorted voice that Egyptian soldiers have opened fire, killing two.

The other two tried to climb the border fence but were tackled by Egyptian soldiers, the report said.

Israeli soldiers were sent to the scene to try to help the refugees and at one point they got into a tug-or-war with the Egyptians, each side holding onto the Sudanese refugees.

"We pulled one way they pulled another; they pointed their guns at us," one of the soldiers said.

He said the Israelis let go because they were afraid that the Egyptians would fire at them.

The Israeli soldiers said they watched helplessly as the Egyptians passed the two refugees from one to the other, beating them.

"We saw them gang up on them and beat them on the ground until they stopped moving," one of the men identified as a soldier said.

"They killed two men with their own hands and sticks and rocks," he said. "We heard them crying and screeching in pain until they died."

The Israeli military said it was looking into the incident.

There was no confirmation from Egypt of any refugees being killed.

Hundreds of Sudanese refugees, many from the war-torn Darfur region, have crossed the desert border from Egypt into Israel.

Last month, Egyptian border guards shot and killed a Sudanese woman and wounded four others. She was the first Sudanese refugee to be killed.

Meanwhile, a security source said yesterday that Egyptian police had tortured a man to death as they were trying to track down his brother.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said police detained Nasr Ahmed Abdallah without charges and beat him severely in the Nile Delta village of Tilbanah on Wednesday. He died of his wounds in a hospital.

The official said police held the 35-year-old carpenter in an attempt to force the surrender of his brother, wanted on unspecified charges.

International and local human rights groups say torture is systematic in Egypt. Many victims have reported receiving electric shocks and severe beatings, but the government says it opposes torture and prosecutes anyone found practicing it.

"The problem is that the Interior Ministry until now does not want to admit that torture is a standard method," said Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

The independent al-Masry al-Yom said villagers protested after Abdallah's death and hurled stones at the police station. The al-Wafd opposition newspaper published a picture of what it said was his bloodied body.

Egypt's public prosecutor this week ordered an investigation after a man said police set fire to him to extract a confession. A police officer is on trial after being caught on video last year apparently sodomizing a bus driver with a stick.

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