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Saturday, 11 March, 2000, 18:49 GMT
More traffic riots in Egypt
Traffic in Cairo
Egypt has a high level of traffic fatalities
By Caroline Hawley in Cairo

Police in Egypt have broken up a riot by villagers protesting after a traffic accident in which two teenage girls were killed.

It is the second such protest over a traffic accident in less than a week.

Several people are reported to have been arrested after hundreds of residents of the village of Awlad Seif in the Nile Delta blocked traffic between the towns of Zagazig and Belbeis, 65km (40 miles) north-east of Cairo.

The latest trouble began when a bus knocked over four people, killing two of them. Angry villagers set the bus and other vehicles on fire.

Results

An almost identical riot broke out last Sunday when a bus ran over a girl trying to cross the main Cairo-Alexandria highway.

Dozens were arrested and many people, including several policemen, were injured.

But the riot achieved results. The very next day the authorities agreed to the protesters' demand: to build a pedestrian bridge over the road.

Collective protest action in Egypt is rare, in part because of the country's emergency laws that ban public demonstrations.

Two riots in less than a week are a sign of the depth of anger among poor villagers who have little political clout but who often fall victim to Egypt's dangerous roads.

Reckless driving claims thousands of lives every year in Egypt. Traffic figures for 1998 reveal that over 6,000 people were killed in accidents.

Although the country has an army of traffic police, rules are regularly flouted. Red lights are routinely ignored and it is not at all unusual for cars to drive at night without any lights.

Efforts by the government to impose stricter speed limits are having little effect on the problem.

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08 Mar 99 | Middle East
Egypt's killer traffic
05 Mar 00 | Middle East
Egypt traffic death sparks riot
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