Smugglers accused of starting huge fire in Siwa Oasis

Ahram Online, Wednesday 29 Feb 2012

Smuggling gangs set fire to farmland in Siwa Oasis near Egypt-Libya border in revenge at local calls to increase border security, fire extinguished with no fatalities or injuries

Photo taken of the fire erupting in Siwa Tuesday evening (Photo: Ahram)

A fire that destroyed over 1700 hectares of farmland in the Siwa Oasis on Tuesday was started deliberately by border smuggling gangs, a local tribal leader has claimed.

The attacks were in revenge for requests by local leaders for border security to be tightened, the man added.

Siwa is in the Matrouh governorate near Egypt's border with Libya.

Matrouh Governor Taha Mohamed El-Sayyid announced on Wednesday that the fire had been extinguished.

Security forces evacuated ten families in two local villages. No injuries or fatalities were reported.

Soldiers and workers at a nearby petroleum company joined civilian fire-fighters to extinguish the fire. High winds caused the blaze to spread quickly and prevented the use of military helicopters in the battle to control it.

Siwa's historic monuments were not affected by the fire, Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said.

El-Sayyid has announced a one million Egyptian pound fund to compensate victims of the fire.

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