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Sunday, October 31, 1999 Published at 21:11 GMT


World: Middle East

Egyptians riot in Kuwait

Cars and shops were damaged in the riots

Kuwaiti security forces using teargas and live bullets are reported to have regained control of a residential area of Kuwait City after two days of rioting by Egyptian workers.

Special forces, national guards and other troops appeared to be in control of the Abraq Kheitan residential area in the capital after some five hours of operations on Sunday. They fired live rounds in the air to disperse the crowds.

Reports say Egyptians threw stones at the security forces, and set fire to vehicles.

The national news agency Kuna quoted an interior ministry official as saying "acts of subversion" in the area, a poor district 20 km (12 miles) south of Kuwait City, had been brought to an end.

'Dozens arrested'

But the official declined to say whether the disturbances were completely over.

There has been no official word yet on the number of arrests and injuries.


[ image: A suspected rioter is led away]
A suspected rioter is led away
Eyewitnesses, however, say dozens of Egyptians were detained, and ambulances were seen carrying several wounded Kuwaiti troops and others out of the area.

The Kuwaiti cabinet condemned the riot.

Interior Minister Muhammed Khaled al-Sabah warned that the security forces would "not hesitate to curb the destruction of people's property or disruption of the security of the country".

Egyptian Ambassador Mahmoud Abu Zaid issued a statement urging the more than 250,000 Egyptians in Kuwait to exercise restraint.

Egypt's minister for overseas labour will visit Kuwait on Monday to discuss the riot.

Broken plate

The unrest started on Saturday night when a scuffle broke out over a broken plate in a supermarket.

A brawl ensued between Egyptian and Bangladeshi residents, which then escalated into full-scale riots involving Egyptian expatriate workers.

The Egyptians later clashed with police who came to the area to investigate the fight, claiming that they were badly and unfairly treated.

"They put their shoes on his face. Is this how they treat Egyptians who fought for them?" one rioter said in reference to Egypt's role in the 1991 US-led Gulf War, which ended Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.

The issue of Egypt's role in the war often triggers differences between citizens of the two close allies.

Some 65% of Kuwait's 2.2 million population are foreign workers and their families, attracted by the Gulf state's oil wealth.





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