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600 foreign tourists stranded in S. Egypt

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-04-27 07:52

CAIRO - Some 600 foreign tourists were stuck on Friday on their way back from the tourist attraction of Abu Simbel temple in southern Egypt's Aswan governorate after some local Nubians blocked the road.

"The Nubians blocked the road after overnight clashes among them over distribution of agricultural lands granted by the government to Nubians," a local official said on condition of anonymity.

The tourists, from various countries, are currently fine and safe in hotels near the temple, but cannot leave the area due to the blocked road, the official said.

Negotiations are underway now between the deputy police chief of Abu Simbel and Nubian representatives in order to solve the issue and let the tourists go, he said.

The Nubians are an ethnic group originated from southern Egypt and northern Sudan.

Ahmed Hassan, an antiquity inspector of Abu Simbel, said some armed Nubians held the disputed lands and installed tents there, claiming they had legal ownership papers, while some disarmed Nubians set fire to their tents on Thursday.

"The issue then developed into clashes when the armed Nubians opened fire to scare their rivals off, but no one was injured," Hassan said.

The number one demand of the road blockers is for the Interior Ministry to arrest the armed Nubians who used gunshots and terrified peaceful citizens, he said.

Egypt has been struggling to bring back foreign tourists after the 2011 upheaval. But underdeveloped facilities, poor security and recurrent violence against foreigners remain the obstacles.

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