Egyptian police shot and killed a Sudanese woman and seriously wounded four others Sunday on the Sinai Peninsula as they tried to sneak into Israel, a local police officer said.
Many refugees trying to enter Israel from Egypt have been arrested, and some wounded, by police, but Haja Abbas Haroun's death was the first of its kind.
Haroun, 28, was killed instantly by police gunfire, while four others, including a woman and young girl, were critically wounded and taken to a local hospital, said Capt. Mohammed Badr of the northern Sinai police force.
The border guards arrested 22 refugees with Haroun who were also seeking political asylum in Israel, Badr added. Eighteen from the group, including Haroun and three of the wounded, were from Sudan's war-torn Darfur region. The rest were from Eritrea and the Ivory Coast, the home country of the fourth person injured.
The incident took place in the central Sinai town of Al-Aouja, some 62 miles south of Rafah.
Badr said the individuals had paid thousands of dollars to smugglers to get into Israel, but the traffickers left the group near the border and fled just minutes before police arrived.
Israel estimates that 2,800 people have entered the country illegally through its Sinai border in recent years, nearly all from Africa. The number shot up in the past two months, apparently as word spread of job opportunities in Israel. As many as 50 people arrived each day in June, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Egyptian authorities have long accused Sinai residents of smuggling weapons, drugs and people across the border into Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Many Sudanese find life difficult in Egypt, a country that struggles to provide jobs and social services for a growing refugee population. Egyptian riot police violently cleared a refugee encampment in central Cairo in 2005, killing nearly 30 people.