Text size

Egyptian security forces uncovered a massive arms cache in central Sinai Peninsula before dawn yesterday, the Egyptian daily Al-Yum a-Saba reported.

No details were given about whether the arms were intended for smuggling into the Gaza Strip or where they were from. However, the Egyptian forces suspect the smugglers to be Sinai Bedouin who found and collected weapons following battles and hoped to sneak them into the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian news agency Maan cited Egyptian security sources saying officers discovered a large arms warehouse containing some 100 anti-aircraft missiles, 45 missile launchers, 40 bombs, an RPG missile and other explosive devices.

The northern Sinai Peninsula cache was reportedly discovered east of Nakhel city, one day after a smaller arms warehouse and two smugglers were detained.

Intelligence on the first find was allegedly gathered from the interrogation of 12 children who fled Gaza via the tunnels earlier in the week, Maan said.

The commander of Egypt's security forces in the Sinai Peninsula, General Mohammed Najib, reportedly received intelligence that suspected arms smugglers had succeeded in stashing their weapons in the area.

Security forces and sappers have cleared the ammunition from the storage sites, many of them places that have served in the past as battle zones.

Experts told police the explosives, mainly TNT, were extracted from other weapons, likely left over from wars in the 1980s and earlier, Ma'an said.

During the same operation, Egyptian police said three tunnels were shut down, all leading into the Salah Eddin area of Rafah. In recent months the smuggling into the Gaza Strip has been somewhat reduced, possibly due to Egypt's cracking down on smugglers in the Sinai desert and Israel's battle against the smuggling, Israeli sources said.