Egypt Seizes Libyan Weapons Headed for Gaza

June 29, 2012  

Egyptian security forces on Friday seized a large stash of weapons, including rockets and automatic machine-guns, smuggled into the country from Libya and allegedly bound for Gaza.

Egypt’s interior minister, Gen. Mohammed Ibrahim, said, according to a report in The Associated Press, that security forces acting on a tip uncovered the weapons in a car and truck on the highway near the Mediterranean resort city of Marsa Matrouh. After chasing down the vehicles, one of the smugglers was killed in an exchange of fire, Ibrahim said.

Among the munitions confiscated were 138 grad rockets and some 7,000 rounds of ammunition, according to Ibrahim. He called the bust the “biggest” in the history of the Interior Ministry.

Ibrahim said the weapons were smuggled from the Libyan city of Sirte, the hometown of the country’s former strongman Muammar Qaddafi. He added one of the smugglers said the weapons were bound for Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and from there to Gaza.

AP noted that a flood of weapons from Libya has added to security concerns in Egypt, where police have yet to fully return to the nation’s streets since disappearing early in last year’s uprising.

Authorities fear the weapons most often fall into the hands of Islamist militants in the Sinai, who have moved swiftly to exploit the security void, carrying out almost daily attacks on security forces.

In April, two Grad rockets believed to have been smuggled from Libya were fired from Egypt’s Sinai desert toward Eilat. No one was hurt and Egypt denied that the rockets were fired from its territory.

In May, Egyptian forces seized a large shipment of heavy weaponry on the Mediterranean coast. The three-vehicle shipment, which also likely came from Libya, included 40 surface-to-surface missiles, 17 rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, automatic weapons and 10,000 shell.

Terror groups based in Gaza acquired anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets from Libya during last year’s civil war which resulted in the toppling of Qaddafi’s regime.

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