The 5,000 residents of Naga al-Gisr village, west of Luxor, have been living in terror since the top aide of the man known as Egypt's “most dangerous criminal” threatened to blow up the village if police attempt to arrest him.
Hamza is a relative of Yasser al-Hambouly, the notorious Upper Egyptian gangster arrested in late January.
Ahmed Hamza and his gang have been engaging in hit-and-run battles with local police on a daily basis. Hamza has strung butane gas canisters on village lamp posts and placed others on the roofs of neighboring houses, connecting them with an electricity cable apparently capable of blowing up the village.
Village residents told Al-Masry Al-Youm Thursday that they are living in terror and have filed complaints over the last few days demanding the return of security to their village.
The village, which has turned into a nest for fugitive criminals and drug and arms dealers, has never been in such a state, said 80-year-old resident Mohamed Hassan.
Haitham Ahmed Mahmoud, 19, said some residents are informing Hamza of police patrol movements to protect him.
Hamza's gang commits armed robbery on the Western Desert Highway, takes unemployed youths into his gang and sells arms at very low prices, said Abdel Hamid Mahmoud, 50.
Ahmed Mohamed Hamza, the gangster's father, said his son was reckless, but not a criminal. He said Hambouly turned him into one.
His father said that after the younger Hamza began committing crimes, he cut off communication with him. He noted that he has filed complaints at the local police station against security forces trespassing on his property to raid his family's home.
Major General Ahmed Saqr, a senior security official, said Hamza and two others are the only remnants of Hambouly's gang. He warned the media of exaggerated stories that could turn criminals into heroes.
He said security forces are doing their best to arrest the rest of the gang, which is taking shelter in the mountains and sugar cane fields.
Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm