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Middle East

Egyptian police block border crossings

Police impede border crossing with Israel and crossing into Gaza to push state to help free kidnapped colleagues.

Last Modified: 19 May 2013 13:03
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More than 2,000 Palestinians were stranded after Egyptian police blocked border crossing with Gaza for third day [AFP]

Egyptian police angered by the kidnapping of seven of their colleagues by armed fighters in the Sinai Peninsula, have blocked a commercial border crossing with Israel, security sources have said.

Police have been blocking another border post, the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip, since Friday to press the government of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to help free the seven.

Dozens of police expanded the protest on Sunday by blocking the Al-Awja border crossing, 40km south of Rafah, used by lorries that carry goods between the two countries, the two security sources said.

"Truck traffic has totally stopped", one said.

As a result, more than 2,000 Palestinians were stranded on Sunday on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza.

The Palestinians, including people returning from medical treatment abroad, were transferred to a youth centre, local officials said.

Armed men demanding the release of jailed radicals seized the policemen and soldiers on the road between the Sinai towns of El-Arish and Rafah on Thursday.

The armed groups in North Sinai have exploited the collapse of state authority after the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 to launch attacks across the border into Israel and on Egyptian targets.

Omar Amer, presidential spokesman, told Egyptian state television no talks were taking place with the kidnappers and that it would be unacceptable to negotiate with criminals.

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