Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Egypt kills migrant trying to slip across Israel border

Egypt Sinai map

An African migrant has been shot and killed by Egyptian police as he tried to illegally cross into Israel, an Egyptian security official has said.

Border police said the man, described as in his twenties and of unknown sub-Saharan origin, ignored orders to stop.

At least 17 migrants have been killed at the Egypt-Israel border in 2009.

Human rights activists have previously criticized Egypt for the practice, but Egyptian police claim they are trying to control people trafficking.

In September there was widespread condemnation from rights groups when a party of four sub-Saharan migrants were shot at the porous, desert border, which is 250 km (155 miles) long.

Eritrea is the most common country of origin for people trying to cross from Egypt to Israel, followed by Ethiopia and Sudan.

Analysts say the number of migrants from the Horn of Africa attempting the journey has increased in recent months because other routes, such as through Libya to Europe, have become more difficult.

'No threat'

The Sinai border is on one of the main routes for African migrants and refugees seeking work or asylum in Israel.

Egypt has come under pressure from Israeli authorities to clamp down on the traffic.

More than 13,000 people have managed to make the journey since 2006.

Human Rights Watch has criticised Israel for violating the rights of some refugees who arrive in the country and has denounced the forcible return of dozens of them to Egypt.

Egypt maintains that its tactics on the border are part of its strategy to counter terrorism and smuggling, but a Human Rights Watch report in 2008 said there was no suggestion migrants who had been shot posed any threat to border guards.

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