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Egyptian army kills Palestinian, detains 2 as they exit tunnel

Sept. 20, 2014 10:29 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 21, 2014 10:48 A.M.)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Egyptian border police shot dead a Palestinian and detained two others after they exited the opening of a smuggling tunnel in the border town of Rafah on Saturday morning, Egyptian military sources said.

Border guard officers reportedly spotted three men walking out of a tunnel opening in area of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier area on the Egyptian side of Rafah, a town that straddles the border.

The sources said that officers shouted at the men to stop, but the men instead attempted to return into the tunnel.

As a result, officers opened fire, killing one. The other two men then stopped and were taken into custody.

The sources told Ma'an that the operation came after the Egyptian army announced a state of alert along the border with the Gaza Strip following intelligence information regarding the potential "infiltration" of "gunmen" from the Gaza Strip into Sinai Peninsula.

Until the July 2013 ouster of democratically-elected Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade, which has been in place since 2007.

Since the coup, however, Egypt has strictly enforced the blockade and targeted the tunnels, with military sources estimating that more than 95 percent have been destroyed.

Despite this, small amounts of goods and people have continued to cross into Gaza, as smugglers utilize increasingly hidden -- and more dangerous -- tunnels to continue the trade.

Hundreds have fled Gaza through Egypt in recent months to escape the massive Israeli assault that left more than 2,000 dead and 110,000 homeless, crowding into ships to flee across the Mediterranean.
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