EL ARISH, Egypt: Egyptian police captured six Sudanese, including a one-year-old boy, who were trying to cross into Israel early Friday to seek asylum, a security official said.
The six were arrested at dawn as they tried to get over the coil of barbed wire that marks the border in Egypt s northeast Sinai desert, said Brig. Gen. Adel Fawzi, the chief of the North Sinai criminal investigation department.
They were arrested near Al-Barth village, about 40 km north of El Arish, where they had been left by a Bedouin smuggling gang to whom they had paid a total of $3,500 to reach Israel.
The detainees, who included a 22-year-old mother and her infant boy, were from Darfur, the strife-torn western region of Sudan. They used to live in Cairo and were planning to seek asylum at the UN High Commission of Refugees in Israel, Fawzi said.
Fawzi added that the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo had been informed. Embassy officials were not available for comment as Friday is the weekend in Egypt.
The detainees were being held in police custody in El Arish.
Egyptian authorities have long accused Sinai inhabitants of smuggling weapons, drugs and people across the border into Israel and the Gaza Strip. The peninsula is inhabited by about 10 semi-nomadic Bedouin tribes who are known for their knowledge of the area s desert and mountain ranges.
Egypt and Israel regularly accuse each other of not doing enough to seal their border and stop smuggling.