Last updated: 8 July, 2012

Egypt seizes 68 people trying to enter Israel

Egyptian border guards have arrested 68 Eritreans and Ethiopians trying to sneak across the border into Israel, a security official said on Sunday.

The 47 Eritreans and 21 from Ethiopia were seized late on Saturday by an Egyptian patrol following a brief chase and warning shots after they were surprised trying to negotiate barbed wire that marks the border, he said.

The detainees said they had each paid around 1,000 dollars to human traffickers, who managed to escape, for passage into the Jewish state.

The Egypt-Israel border has become a major transit route for economic migrants, asylum-seekers and drug-smugglers, and Israel has urged Egypt to clamp down on the traffic.

Egyptian border guards often shoot at African migrants who pay smugglers for passage into Israel to look for work and to escape poverty, and many have been killed.