Africans - Nir Kafri - July 5, 2006
African nationals in jail. The individuals pictured in this photo are not related to the people in the story. Photo by Nir Kafri
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Egyptian authorities arrested on Wednesday seven African nationals attempting to illegally cross the border from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula into Israel, security sources said.

The group of would-be-immigrants was spotted near the border by a police patrol in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Police fired warning shots into the air.

Four of the detained migrants are from Sudan, and three are from Ethiopia, according to authorities.

The migrants admitted they had paid Bedouin smugglers to help them enter Israel, where they hoped to find work, they added.

Thousands of African and other migrants have come to Israel through its porous border with Egypt over the last few years.

Egypt has been criticized by human rights organizations for frequently shooting and killing migrants in order to prevent them from crossing the border. Egyptian border police killed nine African migrants in 2009.

In March, the UN's human rights chief Navi Pillay called on Egypt to urgently launch an independent and credible inquiry into what the former war crimes judge said could be a "shoot-to-kill policy" by some Egyptian security forces towards African migrants trying to enter Israel.

The 255 kilometer-long border is guarded by no more than 750 Egyptian policemen, as stipulated by the 1979 Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered to construct a fence at a cost of NIS 1.5 billion along two segments of Israel's border with Egypt in January, in an attempt to stem the infiltration of migrant workers as well as of terrorist elements into Israel.