The armed forces apprehended 2,215 migrants and 1,067 weapons in September, the spokesperson said Monday in a round-up of military campaigns to secure Egypt’s borders and target illegal smuggling activities.
Brigadier General Mohamed Samir said migrants of various nationalities were attempting to illegally pass through western and northern frontiers, including in Salloum, Siwa, Marsa Matruh, Alexandria, Kafr El-Sheikh and Borrollos.
The armed forces seized vast stocks of weapons that were part of smuggling activities through Egypt’s borders, including 1,067 weapons and 786 items of ammunition. The weaponry included rocket-propelled grenades and other explosives. The weapons were recovered in areas including Salloum, Siwa, Port Said, Matruh and Al-Bayouti in the Western Desert.
Also seized in September were various drugs, to the weight of 10.5 tonnes and 8.7m Tramadol narcotic pills. Some 4,400 cartons of cigarettes were also recovered, spokesperson Samir said.
Egypt struggles to police its borders, which are primarily uninhabited stretches of desert.
On one occasion in early September, the armed forces intercepted three fishing boats off the Alexandrian shore, carrying around 247 individuals, including 17 crew members who were arrested.
None of the would-be migrants were Egyptian, the Ministry of Defence said. Pictures showed the migrants tightly packed, without life-jackets.
In August, Al-Youm Al-Sabaa newspaper reported a military source as saying they had apprehended 5,087 migrants in the month previous.
Egypt’s strategies to secure border areas came under international criticism in September when the military killed 12 tourists, including Mexican travellers. The military said it mistakenly took the three tourist four-wheel drives in the Western Desert for militants.
The government promised a thorough and transparent investigation, but placed a media ban on the investigation.