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Sinai Bedouin lift siege on peacekeepers' camp

Dozens of armed Bedouins who had blockaded a base used by peacekeepers in Egypt’s Sinai Desert have ended their siege following negotiations with the Egyptian army.

Bedouins sinai egypt 2012 03 16Enlarge
Sinai Bedouin routinely complain of neglect and unfair treatment by the government, and sometimes kidnap tourists to press their demands, usually releasing them soon afterwards following negotiations with the authorities. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Dozens of armed Bedouin demonstrators who had encircled a military base used by peacekeepers in Egypt’s Sinai Desert for eight days lifted their siege on Friday, following negotiations with the Egyptian army, Reuters reports.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Bedouins had blockaded the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) mission to pressure the Egyptian government to release their brethren who they claim were unfairly convicted for bombing attacks on popular tourist spots in Taba in 2004, at Sharm Al Sheikh the following year, and Dahab in 2006.

The bombings, which targeted Israeli tourists, killed 130 people. Thousands of Bedouin were rounded up by the Egyptian authorities following the attacks, and hundreds remain imprisoned without trial.

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The MFO said in a statement Thursday that Bedouin demonstrators had “encircled” its North Camp in the Sinai Peninsula near al-Gorah, blocking road access to the site with burning tires and forcing the mission to use helicopters for transportation.

According to the BBC, the statement said that while the Bedouin “have no complaints against the MFO” they believed targeting sites like the mission’s would “bring a more rapid response from Cairo authorities to their demands.”

The MFO is an international force established following the 1979 peace accord between Egypt and Israel to monitor the countries’ borders with each other. Military staff from 12 countries, including the US, operate at the mission.

Sinai Bedouin routinely complain of neglect and unfair treatment by the government, and sometimes kidnap tourists to press their demands, usually releasing them soon afterwards following negotiations with the authorities, AlertNet reports.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/120316/sinai-bedouin-lift-siege-peacekeepers-camp