Tribal violence claims more lives in Egypt
Smoke billows from buildings in the southern city of Aswan on April 6, 2014 following fighting between the Bani Hilal, an Arab tribe, and the Dabudiya, a Nubian family. (AFP)
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At least two more people were killed on Sunday in the southern governorate of Aswan, renewing deadly tribal clashes that have killed almost two dozen people in three days of fighting.
Twenty-three people were killed in the Al-Seel Al-Refy district, east of Aswan, on Friday and Saturday when a feud erupted between two tribes.
The violence resumed on Sunday, with two more dead and 16 injured. The flare-up of fighting has brought the death toll to 25, with 56 wounded.
The fighting first began on Wednesday between the Arab clan Bani Helal and a Nubian tribe, Daboudiya, over the harassment of a girl from one of the tribes and also offensive graffiti written on the wall of a school by students from the feuding families.
It remains unclear who is responsible for starting the violence.
Police then contained the situation by negotiating a truce with family heads and tribal leaders.
An Arab student from Bani Helal reportedly sprayed graffiti insulting former army chief and presidential candidate Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, which angered students from the Nubian tribe and led to a fight, according to an eyewitness.
A failed reconciliation meeting between both sides on Friday descended into violence, with both sides exchanging gunfire in a battle that killed four and injured nine others.
Police arrested three people, but the fighting resumed early Saturday morning. The two sides used gunfire and petrol bombs, and several houses were torched before police were able to stem the fighting, the interior ministry said in a statement.
Revenge killings are commonplace in southern Egypt, often over perceived honour trespasses.
Later Saturday, interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim travelled to Aswan to mediate a truce.
Mahlab ordered the formation of fact-finding committees to look into the violence, compensate the victims and foster reconciliation between the tribes.
The violence has interrupted activities in the governorate, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website. Train movement between Aswan and Cairo has been halted. The provincial governor ordered 17 local schools to be closed on Sunday, the first day of the school week. Also, Aswan University was closed on Sunday for two days.
Army spokesman Ahmed Ali said in a statement that there were "signs of involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood in the strife between the two tribes," adding that the army had stepped in, along with local authorities, to "contain the crisis."
The bodies of the dead were strewn on the streets on Saturday as ambulances failed to reach the neighbourhood where the shootout occurred.
A post-mortem examination showed that at least 14 of the slain had been stabbed in the neck, state-run news agency MENA reported on Sunday.
Many residents had been evacuated for fear of further deaths, leaving the streets of the flashpoint area in east Aswan deserted.