CAIRO: Some 69 new hidden tunnels were uncovered in North Sinai overthe past 19 days, said Military Spokesperson Mohamed Samir on his Facebook page Sunday, as part of “border patrols’ efforts to combat smugglers and criminal elements.”
The spokesperson regularly updates his Facebook page with numbers and pictures of killed militants and seized weapons amid an intensive security campaign taking place in the peninsula as well as in other governorates.
Since a 1 km-wide buffer zone was established in October 2014 along the Rafah-Gaza border, hundreds of hidden tunnels used for smuggling persons, equipment and goods have been uncovered under homes.
Some 240 tunnels were discovered during the past four months, Youm7 reported. The discovered tunnels are then destroyed either by flooding, dynamite and explosives or heavy equipment.
The military has announced in late March the longest uncovered tunnel so far with a length of 2.8 km, found passing under three homes. Since the discovered tunnel exceeded the determined sphere of the buffer zone, the state announced it would consider a potential expansion of the zone.
Furthermore, the Cabinet approved earlier this month to criminalize the act of drilling tunnels at the state borders, an offense that will be punished with life in prison.
Under the intensified security campaign in the peninsula, the armed forces have announced killing scores of “extremist elements” who partook in several attacks against security utilities and services in North Sinai. Such attacks have cost the lives of hundreds of members of army and police forces, as well as leaving causalities among civilians.
At least three resident of Arish City were killed in April 2 after missiles fell on their homes; the incident followed attack that left some 18 soldiers dead on the same day.
According to Saturday’s Facebook post by the military spokesperson, border patrols have also managed to seize weapons, drugs and arrest smugglers from different governorates, including Marsa Matrouh, Suez Gulf Coast and Sallum crossing.
Authorities have previously announced tight security measures at the Sallum crossing: Egypt’s western border with Libya. Many Egyptians and foreigners have been arrested for attempting to illegally enter Libyan territory.
The crossing has also received hundreds of Egyptians fleeing the war-torn Libya since mid-February. According to the latest official numbers, over 37,000 have arrived at the border from Libya.