Forty armed men attack Egypt antiquities store: MENA

CAIRO (Reuters) – Forty armed men attacked an antiquities warehouse in the northern Egyptian city of Kafr el-Sheikh on Saturday, shooting at warehouse security men and injuring several, state news agency MENA said.

The attack is the second attempt to rob Kafr el-Sheikh’s Tal al-Faraeen (Hill of the Pharaohs) antiquities warehouse since January 25, the first day of the nationwide protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak on February 11.

Security in Egypt has been lax since the country’s police forces withdrew from the streets on January 28.

Many Egyptian policemen remain reluctant to return to the streets, fearing attacks by citizens still angry over clashes between demonstrators and security forces during the protests which led to the death of over 300 people.

The warehouse doors were destroyed as were display cases, MENA cited the Head of the Central Department of Lower Egyptian Antiquities Mohamed Abdel Maksoud as saying. Some of the attackers had been caught, while others had escaped, he said.

A committee had been formed to make an inventory of Tal al-Faraeen’s artefacts and identify what was stolen, he said.

International gangs may be exploiting lack of security in Egypt given that several recent attacks on museums and antiquities sites had been organized by large armed groups, he said, and the ministry of culture has planned to move many antiquities to more secure places immediately.

Ancient Egypt’s culture, monuments, temples and pyramids of are a major draw for the country’s tourism industry.

(Reporting by Shaimaa Fayed; Editing by Louise Ireland)