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Egyptian security forces find weapons cache in Sinai

June 20, 2011 11:19 A.M. (Updated: June 21, 2011 12:40 P.M.)
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egyptian police have uncovered a weapons cache in the Sinai peninsula set for transport to the Gaza Strip, Egyptian security sources told Ma’an on Sunday.

The cache was discovered in a desert area near the police station of Al-Hasana in the central Sinai, officials said.

According to police, heavily armed security forces entered the area escorted by armored vehicles and explosives experts. Upon searching, officials said officers found a two-meter deep ditch covered with palm branches and leaves.

Twenty-seven detonators were said to have been seized in addition to five packs of artillery shells.

The seizure came as Egyptian police in El-Arish said they carried out two additional operations against suspected fugitives and arms dealers.

Egyptian sources confirmed that 11 were detained in the raids, including two Palestinians who Egyptian sources named as Midhat Ibrahim Abdullah and Ahmad Abdul-Aziz. Both were said to be fugitives.

Police say the number of fugitives detained in El-Arish since the revolution in Egypt has risen to 64, including three Palestinian arms dealers.

There is increasing concern about the security situation in the Sinai, as under resourced Egyptian forces grapple with criminal gangs and arms dealers.

The cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zweid are of particular concern, as Egyptian security forces have not yet developed a clear strategy to deal with criminal activity.

Bedouin communities vying for power in the area have also challenged state security, leading to several clashes in the area since the January revolution set in motion the ouster of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

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