Bedouin tribesmen shot dead two policemen in the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday as they freed eight suspects on their way to a court hearing, security sources said.
An Interior Ministry statement said shortly after that all but one of the suspects had been caught again.
The tribesmen, using four pick-up trucks, cornered the police van carrying the prisoners, then opened fire, the security sources said. Three policemen and a driver were also wounded.
"The people behind the attack were probably relatives of one of the prisoners seeking to free him," a security source said.
The ministry, citing one of the suspects, said the attack was planned by a brother of the only prisoner who had not yet been caught.
Relations between bedouin and the police, long strained, have grown worse since police detained thousands of young men in the wake of bombings at south Sinai tourist resorts in 2005.
The police had been delivering the prisoners from the city of Port Said to a court in el-Arish, near Egypt's border with Gaza. The shooting occurred 90 km west of Arish.
In November, bedouin clashed with police who seized cement they were trying to smuggle to Gaza through tunnels, injuring 11 policemen, security sources said at the time.
In October, men trying to steal telephone and power cables killed a police officer in a gun battle in Sinai.
Bedouin elders, who complain of neglect by Egypt's government, say tough economic times have led more of their kin to resort to smuggling and other criminal activities.
ReutersLast Mod: 03 Şubat 2010, 23:15