Microbus gun battle leaves Qena in disarray

Sherif Tarek, Ahram Online, Monday 13 Feb 2012

Squabble between microbus drivers in Upper Egypt's Qena develops into tribal gunfight, leaves 13 injured

Central Security Forces
Police's Central Security Forces (CSF) in Qena on Monday morning (Photo: Al-Ahram)

A gunfight erupted in the Upper Egyptian town of Qena on Sunday night, leaving 13 people injured. Army units and state security forces intervened to end the violence by early Monday morning.

Ahmed Abdul Radi, a teacher who works in El-Sa'a Square where the chaos erupted, told Ahram Online that an altercation between microbus drivers turned into a gun battle between members of the El-Hamidat and El-Ashraf tribes.

"Microbus drivers from both tribes fought over parking spots," said Abdul Radi. "The gunmen used machine guns and the fight lasted for many hours."

The Qena Health Directorate denied reports that a man had died in the violence. The injured were admitted to various local hospitals.

"The situation was contained after military forces arrived to secure the area and imposed a curfew that should last until dusk today [Monday]," Abdul Radi stated.

The police’s Central Security Forces (CSF) also helped secure the area.

Security forces have reportedly arrested ten people in relation to the incident.

Members of the El-Ashraf tribe reportedly set fire to tires on El-Mahata Street to hinder security forces trying to arrest them.

Qena's Governor-General Adel Habib is to sit down with leaders from both tribes in an attempt to broker a reconciliation.

Nine shops were reportedly destroyed in the violence.

On Monday morning many Qena residents stayed at home, fearful of further violence.

In comments to Al-Ahram's Arabic portal, Mohamed Fouad of the Revolution Youth Coalition, said: "We cannot afford to have this kind of incident these days; it will set us back decades … This kind of violence affects people's daily life in every way."

Banks in Qena closed as soon as the violence erupted. Bank branches in Cairo and other cities have suffered a spate of robberies in recent months due to a nationwide security vacuum.

Hisham Baharwa, a banker, told Al-Ahram's Arabic portal that: "Banks in Qena decided to close their doors out of fear of possible attacks."

Qena has a long history of tribal violence.

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