April 8, 2008 / 3:09 PM / 11 years ago

Police shoot boy dead in troubled Nile Delta town

(Adds prime minister’s visit, concessions to workers)

By Wael Gamal

MAHALLA EL-KUBRA, Egypt, April 8 (Reuters) - Police shot dead a 15-year-old boy in the Nile Delta overnight — the first fatality in two days of clashes between police and workers backed by local people, security sources said on Tuesday.

As life began to return to normal in the textile town of Mahalla el-Kubra, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif visited on Tuesday with four ministers, offering bonuses and more investment in the town’s giant factory to placate the workers.

The dead boy, Ahmed Ali Mabrouk Hamada, was standing on the balcony of his family’s flat in the industrial town, 100 km (60 miles) north of Cairo, when bullets hit him in the head and neck, the security sources said.

"He was asleep on the third floor when he heard loud bangs and came out to check and suddenly he was hit by a bullet and fell to his death," said his uncle, Alaa al-Shebeeni.

A doctor at the city’s mortuary, who asked not to be named, said: "The boy died as a result of two bullets in the head. One entered below his ear and the other went from below his chin and penetrated his head."

At the Misr Spinning and Weaving plant, the team of ministers said workers there would receive a bonus equivalent to 30 days’ pay. The labour minister praised them for not taking part in acts of violence, the state news agency MENA said.

Prime Minister Nazif told 2,000 workers — about one tenth of the workforce — that the government would ensure in future that their wages outpace inflation and had approved 400 million pounds ($73 million) in investment in the company.



BREAD AND BONUSES

Investment Minister Mahmoud Mohieldin said the government would double the amount of subsidised bread available to workers through the factory and would improve medical facilities there.

Other textile workers at state-owned factories across the country will receive a 15-day bonus, the ministers said.

Workers present at the event, some of whom chanted slogans against the strike, said the factory managers had chosen them to take part in the meeting with the ministers.

More than 65 people have been injured in the clashes which began on Sunday when workers ended the day shift.

The workers had tried to go on strike and protest against high prices but plainclothes security men took control of the factory and forced them to work, workers said.

Local people including many teenagers have joined in the anti-government protests, alongside the textile workers seeking pay rises to compensate for sharp increases in food prices.

The fighting continued into Monday night and Tuesday morning as protesters hurled petrol bombs at security forces. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Prosecutors on Tuesday ordered 331 people held for 15 days on suspicion of taking part in acts of violence.

The unrest in Mahalla has been the most serious during more than one year of conflict over pay between industrial workers and management. In most cases management has quickly made concessions to the demands of the workers. ($1 = 5.45 Egyptian pounds) (Additional reporting by Mohamed Abdellah, Writing by Jonathan Wright; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)



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