Hamas has foiled an attempt by Palestinian militants to attack former U.S. president Jimmy Carter during his visit to the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian source told news agencies on Tuesday.
According to the source, militants linked with Al-Qaida planted two roadside bombs at a border crossing between Gaza and Israel with the intent of striking Carter's vehicle on his way out of the coastal territory. Witnesses reported seeing Hamas forces patrolling near the Erez crossing and detonating the explosives.
Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab al-Rassin denied the reports, however, saying the group's forces had engaged in routine activity and had no information of an assassination attempt.
Associates of the former president said they had received briefing on the matter, but would not elaborate on the matter.
Carter was in Gaza on Tuesday to meet with leaders of the ruling Hamas movement, in an effort to persuade them to adopt the international community's conditions for lifting the crippling economic blockade.
The former president brought with him to Gaza a letter for abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been in Palestinian captivity since he was captured in a 2006 cross-border raid.
Shalit's father Noam told Haaretz over the weekend that he Carter would be able to get a letter to his son and confirm delivery as early as this week.
Carter met last week with Hamas' political leader in Damacus, Khaled Meshal, but gave the Shalits no news about their son's condition following thosen talks.
The Shalit family has not had a sign of life from Gilad in a year. The last letter the Shalits received from their son, a year ago, was faxed to the offices of Carter's organization in Ramallah.