Army leader meets Sinai Bedouin chiefs

Staff Brigadier General Mohamed Farid Hegazi, leader of the second field army, met with tribal chiefs in North Sinai, Egyptian Television reported.

Channel One said on Saturday that Hegazi discussed the current situation in Egypt–problems facing Sinai in particular and the country in general–and highlighted the need for cooperation to restore security and stability.

Hegazi listened to the chiefs' demands and suggestions, promising to take them into account in formulating plans to satisfy the demands of the Egyptian people generally.

This may be the first meeting of its kind between an army leader and Bedouin chiefs, for the interior ministry was in charge of this file during the rule of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Bedouins have long complained about arbitrary arrests and lack of development.

Egyptian police, meanwhile, has accused them of involvement in arms smuggling to Gaza and human trafficking to Israel. 

Tens of thousands of Bedouins protested during the 25 January revolution. They called for an end to unemployment in North Sinai and the release of some Bedouins arrested four years ago and detained without trial.

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