Police arrests 33 Africans on the border, finds weapons in Sinai

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AL-ARISH, August 27, 2008 (AFP) – Egyptian authorities have arrested 33 African migrants, including four children, who were trying to cross the border illegally into Israel, a security offical said on Wednesday.

The group, which included four children aged three to eight, was arrested on Tuesday evening in central Sinai near the border with Israel, the official told AFP.

The porous 250-km Egypt-Israel border has become a major transit route for migrants, asylum-seekers and drug smugglers.

So far this year, 20 migrants have been killed attempting the crossing and 641 have been arrested, according to an AFP count.

In a report published last week, Amnesty International urged the Egyptian government to launch an investigation into the shooting dead by police of people crossing the border illegally.

On the same day, police found a cache of weapons and explosives in the Sinai desert which they believe was destined for the Gaza Strip, a security official said on Wednesday.

A tip-off led police to the cache where they found two plastic bags filled with 100 kg of TNT explosives, as well as 15 hand grenades, five mortar rounds and nine anti-tank mines, the official told AFP.

He said that no arrests had been made in connection with the find.

On Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak hailed Egyptian efforts to stem the flow of weapons into Gaza, saying they had been visibly effective but that more effort was still needed.

Israel and the United States have repeatedly accused Cairo of not doing enough about the problem of underground tunnels linking Gaza and Egypt used to smuggle weapons, food, fuel and cigarettes into the impoverished territory. -AFP

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