Two Czech officers are with an international force in the Sinai desert,Egypt, that has been surrounded by around 300 Bedouin tribesmen according to Czech Radio (ČRO) on Thursday. The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) force is mostly made up of Colombian and Uruguayan troops.
The Bedouin tribesmen surrounding the MFO peacekeepers’ base are demanding the release of five fellow Bedouins being held in prison pending a retrial on terrorism charges connected with a 2005 bomb attack on Sharm el-Sheik — one of Egypt’s largest tourist resorts — in which around 90 people were killed, including one Czech tourist.
Spokeswoman for the Chief Command of the Czech Armed Forces Jana Růžičková told Czech Radio Thursday morning that the two Czech officers with the besieged peacekeeping force are unharmed and in good health. “We’re in touch with them every day,” she added.
The Uruguayan Foreign Ministry told the Associated Press (AP) news agency that there were around 300 Colombian peacekeepers, 80 US troops and 58 Uruguayans at the base when it was surrounded by Bedouins armed with machine guns. The Uruguayan Foreign ministry said 22 Uruguayan troops had been allowed to leave the base but said it could not offer details about released of soldiers from other countries.
AP said the Colombian ministries of defense and foreign affairs had declined to comment on the situation.
The El Gorah base lies around 20 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea and is the MFO’s largest base in Egypt. The MFO was established in 1981 to ensure the observance of the Egypt – Israeli peace treaty under which Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula which it occupied during the Six Day war in 1967.