Posted: Apr 6, 2014 10:50 AM
Updated: Apr 6, 2014 10:50 AM
ASWAN, Egypt (AP) Clashes between an Arab clan and a Nubian family resumed Sunday in Egypt's south, killing two people and wounding four, health officials said, leaving the tourist city of Aswan on the edge despite a high-profile government effort to end the bloodshed.
The bloody clashes, which began Friday, so far have claimed 25 lives. Gunfights spread beyond a residential area to outside the local hospital and morgue near the city's center, a few kilometers (miles) from the tourist hotels and its commercial areas.
An angry mob from the Arab clan torched more new Nubian homes Sunday after collecting the bodies of their relatives to bury. The attack pushed armed Nubians into the streets, sparking pitched gun battles. Police struggled to break up the mob outside the hospital. A military helicopter flew over the area.
Locals meanwhile complained of the inability of security forces to halt the vendetta violence. Nubians burned horse carts belonging to the Arab clan in protest.
A Nubian resident reached by telephone said gunmen from the Arab Haleyla clan attacked his neighborhood el-Sayel el-Rifi, on the edge of Aswan.
"We are dying. They are attacking us," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he feared for his life. "There is no government and no police in the area."
The renewed clashes came shortly after the local governor visited the area. An Associated Press photographer there said firefights broke out nearby, including outside the hospital and morgue. An armored vehicle was stationed outside the neighborhood of narrow dirt roads. Authorities closed local schools and a university over fears of renewed violence.
In the city's center, shops and bakeries were closed. Trains sat at the edge of town, trying to wait out the violence.
The bloody feud began after a fight last week between school students drew in adults, sparking the clashes that turned deadly Friday. Police said the fight was over the harassment of a girl. Witnesses said offensive graffiti written on the school walls fueled the violence.
Security officials say members of the Arab clan are involved in arms and drugs smuggling and are well-armed. The fight took on a political overtone when the impoverished Arab clan accused the ethnic Nubians of supporting the military, while the Nubians say the Arabs back ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and are protected by officials loyal to longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Local leaders say police were mostly absent from the streets, causing the violence to spread. The governor appealed for the military to deploy troops in the area. On Sunday, a military official said more soldiers were heading to Aswan.
Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and his interior minister visited Aswan on Saturday to meet local leaders to end the dispute. Mahlab promised a fact-finding mission to investigate how the violence erupted. But vendettas, particularly over perceived violations of honor, are all too common in southern Egypt.
On Sunday, local government official Mohammed Mostafa told private television station CBC that officials are considering emergency measures and possibly a curfew in the area.
The violence in Egypt's south adds to unrest plaguing the country since Morsi's overthrow in July. Protests by Morsi supporters often devolve into violence and militants have launched a wave of attacks since his ouster. It also comes before May's presidential election, in which the former powerful military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who removed Morsi, will run for office and is widely expected to win.
On Sunday, former presidential hopeful Mortada Mansour announced he would run for president. Mortada, widely considered a Mubarak loyalist and the head of renowned Egyptian soccer club Zamalek, was disqualified on a technicality before the 2012 poll that Morsi won.
Speaking to journalists, Mansour said he would ban all protests and strikes nationwide for one year if elected. He did not offer details on how he planned to do it.
Leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi is also running in the election, scheduled for May 26 and 27.
Associated Press writers Mamdouh Thabet in Assuit, Egypt, and Sabry Khaled contributed to this report