Abdel Raouf, Beheira bureau chief for the state paper Al-Ahram, was killed when Egyptian soldiers at a checkpoint opened fire on his vehicle as a nightly military-imposed curfew was about to begin. The attack, which took place in the Nile Delta city of Damanhur, also wounded Hamid al-Barbary, Beheira bureau chief for the state newspaper Al-Gomhuria.
Al-Barbary told CPJ that Abdel Raouf had offered to drive home several journalists after a joint meeting with the new governor of Beheira. The two of them were the only ones left in the car as they approached the checkpoint. Al-Barbary told CPJ that soldiers gestured to them, telling them to leave the checkpoint, so Abdel Raouf turned the car around. The soldiers then opened fire on the car, al-Barbary said, and Abdel Raouf was hit in the head. The car swerved and hit a light pole.
An army spokesman issued a statement on the night of the attack, claiming the car had "raised suspicion by driving at high speed during curfew hours near a military checkpoint without reacting to calls or to warning gunshots in the air." The statement also said the soldiers thought the car was trying to escape from the checkpoint.
Al-Barbary disputed the statement, telling CPJ that "there were no warning gunshots or even any calls for us to stop" after the car turned around. He said the shooting occurred shortly after 6 p.m.--which was before the curfew and not after, as the army had claimed.
The curfew, which begins every night at 7 p.m., was imposed by authorities after security forces dispersed two sit-ins supportive of ousted President Mohamed Morsi on August 14, igniting a week of violence that left approximately 1,000 dead. Journalists are officially exempt from the curfew.
The Egyptian Journalists Syndicate said it received several complaints by journalists saying they were harassed by soldiers at checkpoints despite showing their ID cards. News accounts have also reported cases of Egyptian soldiers opening fire on civilians at checkpoints during curfew hours. The attack on the journalists' car took place on the same day that armed militants killed at least 25 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai city of Rafah, according to news reports.
The military said it has opened an investigation into the incident, reports said. A day after al-Barbary spoke to the press about the shooting, the army issued another statement, accusing the journalist of opening fire on the checkpoint. The prosecutor general subsequently ordered al-Barbary to be taken into custody. He was released two days later, according to news reports.