Egypt holds 55 Sudanese migrants

2010-10-24 21:26

Cairo - Egyptian police found 55 Sudanese migrants hidden in a container on a truck heading into the Sinai region, where they planned to cross the border into Israel, security sources said on Sunday.

The migrants, 40 men, nine women and six children aged as young as 4, were arrested at a checkpoint near the entrance to a tunnel under the Suez Canal separating Sinai from the rest of Egypt, the sources said.

The driver told police he had smuggled them from a mountainous area in Egypt's eastern Red Sea region after striking a deal with a people trafficker in Sinai.

The migrants were exhausted after three days on the road and the children were taken to a hospital in the city of Suez, the sources said.

The route through Sinai to Israel is a common target for African migrants fleeing poverty or conflict and seeking work or asylum in Israel.

At least 34 migrants have been shot dead this year trying to cross Egypt's heavily-guarded border with Israel, up from 19 last year.