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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Egypt busts Sinai arms ring - security sources

AL-ARISH, Egypt, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Egyptian police busted a weapons-dealing ring on Saturday that sold guns and grenades in Egypt's Sinai peninsula and whose members included security men, security sources said.

"Nine members of this network were caught red-handed while selling weapons and explosives on one of the streets in al-Arish to a group of Bedouin and Palestinians," one of the sources told Reuters, asking not to be named.

The Sinai peninsula has been the scene of a string of three deadly bomb attacks targeting popular Red Sea beach resorts over the past two years that have killed scores of people.

Palestinian militants have also used Sinai to smuggle weapons through tunnels across the border into the Gaza Strip for use in fighting Israel.

Of those arrested on Saturday, five were Palestinians and four were members of the Egyptian police, the sources said. They said authorities were still searching for six more suspects in north Sinai. The sources said the police seized hand grenades, an assault rifle and ammunition when they made the arrests in al-Arish, a town on Egypt's Mediterranean coast with a mixed population of settled Bedouin, people from the Nile valley and assimilated people of Palestinian origin.

Egypt has laid the blame for the Sinai bombings on local militants including Bedouin with militant Islamist views.
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