RAFAH: Egyptian police discovered a ton of explosives hidden in an underground cache on the border with the Gaza Strip during a search for smuggling tunnels, a security official said Thursday.
The cache was discovered behind a school in the sparsely populated Ahrash region near the border town of Rafah, the official added on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.
The explosives were packed in 28 plastic bags in the Al-Ahrash area right on the border between Egypt and Gaza, the official said.
It is suspected they were going to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
The discovery comes just two days after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced that Egypt was doing everything it could to search for tunnels used to smuggle weapons and contraband to fighters in the Gaza Strip, following Israeli and US criticism.
Israel has repeatedly complained that Egypt is not doing enough to prevent arms smuggling by Palestinian groups.
Egypt has asked Israel to renegotiate their peace treaty in order to deploy more troops along the border in a bid to stem the arms flow.
But the Jewish state is very reluctant to agree, an Israeli diplomatic source said after a Tuesday meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
We believe that 750 Egyptian border guards already patrolling the Gaza border can be more effective in stopping the weapons smuggling, the official said.
Asked about the issue during a news conference, a visibly angry Mubarak insisted his government was exerting all efforts to stop weapons from crossing the porous border.
“In the past eight months we have found 186 tons of explosives, said Mubarak on Tuesday in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Rather than criticize Egypt s efforts, the president said, there should be more coordination between the country s respective security agencies.
“If you have information, why don t you tell our agencies about it and then we can coordinate, he said. “The security agencies of Israel and Egypt can meet on a daily basis and discuss all these issues instead of letting resentment build up for a month or two until it explodes.
Olmert agreed at the press conference that there would be increased coordination between the nations security forces. Additional reporting by AFP