Four Palestinians dead after Egypt says tunnels destroyed

Four Palestinians were killed and 10 injured when a smuggling tunnel under Gaza`s border with Egypt collapsed, medical sources have said, as security officials on the other side said they destroyed tunnels.

Last Updated: Apr 29, 2010, 10:17 AM IST

Gaza City: Four Palestinians were killed and 10 injured when a smuggling tunnel under Gaza`s border with Egypt collapsed, medical sources have said, as security officials on the other side said they destroyed tunnels.

Witnesses said the cave-in occurred on Wednesday after an explosion on the Egyptian side of the tunnel, but security services in Gaza did not confirm that account.

However, Egyptian security officials said they had destroyed four tunnels north of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, although they were unaware of any casualties.

The death toll was the highest for Gaza tunnel collapses since July, when five people were killed.

The impoverished territory of 1.5 million people has largely relied on the vast network of tunnels on the border since Israel and Egypt sealed Gaza off to all but vital aid after the Islamist movement Hamas seized power in June 2007.

Cairo has stepped up its controversial fight against smuggling into Gaza underground and by sea, under pressure from Israel and the United States, to prevent Palestinian militants being supplied with arms.

More than 120 Palestinians have died in cave-ins or been killed by Israeli military operations aimed at the tunnels since the Hamas takeover, medics say.

PTI