Sunday, July 19, 2009

[olympiaworkers] One dead, dozens injured as quarry workers in Egypt clash with police

Jul 19 2009

A policeman died and dozens of people were injured when thousands of
quarry workers and owners clashed with police in Egypt on Thursday.

The protesters marched into Al-Minya city, in the central province of
Al-Minya 210 kilometers south of Cairo, and blocked a bridge spanning the
Nile, to protest against a decision by the authorities to impose new
duties on quarried rock, security sources said.

Police used teargas to disperse the crowd, but the protesters stoned
police, injuring at least four officers, security sources said.

An official said that police fired tear gas at some 3,000 workers who were
throwing stones. One policeman died, and accounts differed as to whether
he was killed during the stoning or from exposure to teargas. Reports of
the total number injured varied. Security sources said at least 17 riot
police had been wounded, and more than 20 protesters were suffering the
effects of teargas inhalation.

Police arrested some of the protesters. Estimates by security sources of
how many ranged from five to close to 50. The southern city is almost
quiet again, except for the intense security measures. Now, most of the
main roads are blocked, especially a bridge spanning the Nile, where the
clashes took place.

The prosecutor has charged detainees with rioting, murder, blocking the
main road, and disruption of the traffic, and has called on the forensic
team to decide on the autopsy of the dead policeman.

The website of the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm said the government
had imposed duties of LE 40 per ton of quarried stone, leading some
quarries to shut down and lay off their laborers. Protesters said they
held the demonstration because petitions to officials had been ignored and
some quarries had been shut for more than two weeks, the website said

Labor unrest has become common in Egypt, usually over pay, and often in
privatized companies. Even professional groups such as doctors,
pharmacists and lawyers have stopped work or threatened strikes over pay.
Worker frustration with rising prices and shortages of subsidized bread
flared into two days of clashes with security forces in the city of
Mahalla El-Kobra north of Cairo in April last year. Three people were
killed and scores injured.

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