( AP ) - Egyptian guards at the breached border with Gaza fatally shot an African man and woman Wednesday as they tried to illegally cross from Egypt into the Palestinian territory, officials said.
The guards opened fire at a group of eight Africans in Rafah, a town divided by the border.
One of those killed was identified as a 22-year-old man from Ivory Coast who bled to death after a bullet severed a main artery in his thigh, the officials said. The woman was seriously wounded and died later at a local hospital, according to Imad Kharboush, head of the emergency unit in North Sinai.
The African migrants appeared to be trying to use the chaos at the border to make their way into Israel via Gaza, Egyptian officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been flowing across the Gaza-Egypt border unchecked for the past week since Hamas militants using explosives breached the partition in several places.
Israel estimates that about 2,800 people have entered the country illegally across the desert border with Egypt in recent years in search of jobs, most of them from Africa. Israel has asked Egypt to work harder to stem the tide.