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Middle East
Hezbollah 'plotted to attack Egypt'
Lebanese group's operatives planned to hit targets in Sinai, Egyptian minister says.
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2009 07:02 GMT
Nasrallah admitted a Hezbollah member operated in Egypt but denied a plot to attack the country [AFP]

Egypt has accused Hezbollah of plotting to attack tourists at resorts in the Sinai Peninsula - days after Cairo said 49 men had been arrested for allegedly being linked to the Lebanese armed political group.

Bomb-making equipment, including explosive belts, was found after the arrests and 25 men remain in custody, Mufid Shihab, Egypt's minister of legal and parliamentary affairs, said on Sunday.

The individuals were also planning to buy a boat to "bring weapons and ammunition from Yemen, Sudan and Somalia and smuggle them into the country," he told the Egyptian parliament.

Those arrested were "observing and locating the tourist groups who repeatedly come to south Sinai resorts and residences, paving the way to target them in hostile activities", Shihab said.

Hezbollah agent

The claims came three days after Egypt said that a "cell" of 49 men with links to Hezbollah had been arrested on suspicion of planning attacks aimed at destabilising the country and providing aid to Hamas, the Palestinian group controlling the Gaza strip.

The 25 men in custody were from places including Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt and Sudan, Shihab said.

Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, said on Friday that a member of its ranks who was sent to Egypt to provide help to Hamas had been arrested in November on charges of smuggling arms and equipment to Gaza via the strip's Egyptian border.

But he denied that Hezbollah was planning attacks against targets in Egypt.

Tense relations

Cairo's claims highlight the differences between Washington's allies in the region – Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and Iranian-backed groups such as Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas.

Relations between Egypt and Hezbollah have worsened since Israel launched its 22-day war on Gaza with the stated aim of preventing rocket attacks from the Hamas-run coastal territory.

Nasrallah had accused Egypt of aiding Israel in its assault on Gaza by failing to open its border to allow Palestinians to leave the besieged territory.

More than 1,300 Palestinians, at least half of them civilians, were killed during the conflict before Hamas and Israel each issued unilateral ceasefire orders.

Source:
Agencies
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