Egypt destroys 521 tunnel openings along Gaza border

Published May 25th, 2015 - 02:32 GMT

The Egyptian army destroyed 521 tunnel openings on the Gaza and northern Sinai borders over the past six months, the Turkish Anadolu News Agency reported.

Egyptian army spokesman Mohamed Samir told the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram on Monday that border guards had demolished the tunnel openings over the past half-year, including 63 that had been constructed one to 2.8 kilometers from the borders.

Some of the tunnels, he said, were equipped with railroad tracks and communication rooms, Samir said, adding that the Egyptian army’s Engineering Authority would reveal its plans to end the tunnel problem at some point in the future.

The campaign to demolish the tunnels is part of Egypt’s offensive against militant groups believed to be operating in Sinai. It is also part of an effort to eradicate the smuggling network linking Gaza to Sinai, of which the tunnels are a vital part.

The Hamas organization, which rules the Gaza Strip, is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a bitter rival of Egypt’s military regime.

On May 13, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi said that at least 80 percent of the tunnels between the Sinai and the Gaza Strip have been destroyed, and that nearly 200 militants were arrested in massive security operation.

Sisi said the buffer zone with neighboring Gaza had been expanded to three kilometers in certain locations, and that security forces have destroyed 150 terror bases, according to a Falesteen newspaper report quoted by media watchdog group Middle East Monitor.

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