Egypt truck explodes in Gaza smuggling bid

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AL-ARISH: A fuel tanker truck exploded in an Egyptian border town where it was unloading its 50,000 liter cargo for smuggling into the Gaza Strip, destroying four homes, a security official said.

The fuel was being unloaded near a house to be smuggled into Gaza, the official said.

Firefighters have been called in from the neighboring cities to control the blaze, which is widespread, he said, adding that there were no casualties.

Last month, Egyptian police said they seized a truck loaded with 170,000 liters of fuel in Al-Arish which traffickers had planned to smuggle into Gaza.

Gaza is an impoverished coastal strip which has been under an Israeli blockade since Hamas group seized power there last year. It depends on whatever foreign aid is allowed in by Israel and by goods smuggled through tunnels from Egypt.

Egyptians in Sinai have demonstrated against fuel shortages in the region, which they blame on the smuggling.

Egypt s Rafah border crossing with Gaza is the only passage into the territory not controlled by Israel. Egypt has refused to permanently open the border.

The blockade of the territory has led to severe fuel shortages, power cuts and an ever worsening humanitarian situation. -AFP

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