The United Nations human rights chief slammed Egypt Tuesday for the killing of 60 migrants by security forces near its border with Israel in the last three years.
"I know of no other country where so many unarmed migrants and asylum-seekers appear to have been deliberately killed in this way by government forces," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement, dpa reported.
"It is a deplorable state of affairs, and the sheer number of victims suggests that at least some Egyptian security officials have been operating a shoot-to-kill policy," Pillay noted, saying the death toll could "hardly be an accident."
The majority of those killed were from Sub-Saharan Africa the UN said, and the shootings appeared to have taken place following an agreement between Egypt and Israel to toughen border controls in Sinai in the summer of 2007.
According to Pillay security forces "are only permitted to use lethal force when it is strictly unavoidable in order to protect life," and the killings in Sinai required an independent investigation.
Ruper Colville, a spokesman for Pillay, told reporters in Geneva that his office was in touch with Egyptian authorities on the matter.
While the UN had confirmed 60 deaths, Colville noted that more migrants were missing and might also be dead.