Tuesday, July 6, 2010

EGYPT: Bus driver allegedly shoots dead six construction workers


A disgruntled bus driver allegedly killed six laborers Tuesday when he stopped his vehicle and sprayed gunfire on a construction crew he was transporting to a work site south of Cairo, an Egyptian security official told the state-run MENA news agency.

The official said that Mahmoud Taha Swellem was driving 22 people, including a finance manager and a department head, to a site near Giza when he suddenly "took out an automatic weapon and opened fire at his passengers, killing six and wounding 16, who have been taken to hospital."

A number of female workers were reportedly on the bus, but none of them were killed during the assault. Swellem was arrested at the scene. Police gave no motive for the shooting but it did not appear to be religiously or politically motivated. Reports suggested that Swellem, 46, was depressed after being informed that his company, Arab Contractors, was moving him to another job.

Founded in 1954 by Osman Ahmed Osman, an Egyptian engineer and former government minister, Arab Contractors was one of the largest and most prominent construction firms in the Middle East. For decades, it was a dream job for many Egyptians. But increased competition from Western and Arab companies took its toll on the corporation, forcing it to cut salaries and jobs in recent years.

Arab Contractors later issued a statement confirming the shooting and publishing a list of names of the dead and injured employees.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Police surround the bus driven by the shooter. Credit: Agence France-Presse

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