Egyptian authorities have seized a record 1 ton of explosives bound for the Palestinian Gaza Strip, a security official said Sunday.
The official, who requested anonymity, said the explosives were seized when a suspicious-looking lorry was searched at a checkpoint between mainland Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Gaza and Israel.
The shipment was the largest single haul of explosives captured by Egyptian authorities in Sinai, which has been the scene of turmoil in recent months.
Police have seized a total of 5 tons of explosives as well as disassembled rockets and automatic weapons in the past three months, according to local media reports.
Egyptian authorities say the weapons are shipped from Libya, which is awash with arms, and smuggled into Gaza by gangs operating in Sinai.
The remote and rugged desert peninsula has suffered from increased security problems since the fall of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
Earlier this month, security forces in northern Sinai thwarted the smuggling of six U.S.-made missiles to the Gaza Strip. According to an Egyptian news agency, special police units and border police, assisted by a sapper (combat engineer) located a secret warehouse storing six missiles that were on their way to being smuggled through tunnels into Gaza.
Those missiles have a range of 75 kilometers, with a launch base and operating system, and Egyptian authorities believe that those missiles too were smuggled by Libya into the Sinai Peninsula.
In August 2012, the army launched a massive crackdown on Muslim insurgents in Sinai suspected of killing 16 Egyptian soldiers near the border with Gaza.
As part of a crackdown on terrorism and arms smuggling, the Egyptian army began over the summer beefing up its presence in the area where the borders of Israel, Egypt and Gaza converge, and particularly in the area nearest the Gaza Strip.
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