Egyptian police shut the door on Gaza after abductions

Egyptian police have shut the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza in protest at the abduction of their colleagues earlier this week

by The Commentator on 17 May 2013 11:11

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Egyptian police have taken the measure of closing the Rafah border crossing with Gaza today Friday in protest at the kidnapping of police in the Sinai peninsula, a security source and witnesses told the Agence France Presse.

Egypt has recently attempted to tackle the smuggling through the Gaza tunnels, and the closure of the Rafah crossing is seen as yet another admission that Egypt's recent policy of opening the crossing is simply not working. Numerous reports over the last year have shown that the Egyptian government is unsure as to how it can manage the border.

The latest move is a response to the abduction of three policemen and four soldiers on Thursday. Armed men demanding the release of a group of prisoners held at a police station in the North Sinai town of El-Arish are responsible. The captured policemen worked at the Rafah border terminal, a security source said.

On Friday, police padlocked the gates leading to the terminal to protest the abductions, witnesses and the security source said. Others have publicly testified that depsite Egyptian government overtures, crossing at Rafah has remained difficult over the past few months.

The protest by police comes a day after President Mohamed Morsi held crisis talks with his defence and interior ministers over the abductions, and as negotiations to secure the release of the servicemen were underway.

Egyptian state media has said that security officials were in talks with the abductors via mediators -- local Bedouin leaders who hold sway in the Sinai peninsula.

The Sinai has experienced a severe uptick in the number of hostage taken since the collapse of Hosni Mubarak's regime in 2011. They are often carried out by Bedouin seeking the release of jailed relatives.

The most serious incident, AFP reports, was in August 2011, when gunmen slipped across and staged a series of ambushes that killed eight Israelis.

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