Cairo accuses Gaza's Hamas of training Egyptian militants

Sep 13 2013, 10:50 IST
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Egyptian army officials have accused Palestinians of helping Islamist militants in Sinai. (Reuters photo) Egyptian army officials have accused Palestinians of helping Islamist militants in Sinai. (Reuters photo)
SummaryFawzi Barhoum says the allegation is an 'attemp to demonize Hamas'.

Egyptian state television accused Palestinian Hamas on Thursday of training Egyptian Islamists in how to carry out bombings, putting more pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood, ally of Hamas.

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In neighboring Gaza, the ruling Hamas Islamists strongly denied the allegations.

Egypthas faced turmoil since the army forced the Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi from the presidency in July. A week ago, the interior minister survived an assassination attempt in Cairo, amid fears the country could face an Islamist insurgency.

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The allegations that Hamas has been training Egyptian militants could lead the military-backed authorities to escalate their crackdown on the Brotherhood.

"Security authorities have learned that the military wing of the Hamas movement trained several people to undertake car-bombing operations and trained various others to make explosives," said a presenter on state television.

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"The military wing of the Hamas movement provided various Salafi jihadists and also other religious currents with 400 landmines. The security apparatus documented this and they will be arrested."

Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, said of the report, "This is completely incorrect".

It was an "attempt to demonize Hamas", he added.

Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been on the defensive since Mursi was ousted from the presidency following mass protests. He had alienated millions of Egyptians by giving himself sweeping powers and mismanaging theeconomy.

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The main state paper, al-Ahram, cited high-ranking security sources as saying Hamas was also involved in the failed assassination attempt against the interior minister earlier this month. It did not elaborate or name the sources.

The army-backed government in Egypt has tightened control of crossings from the Sinai peninsula into Gaza, which Egypt ruled from 1948 to 1967, and continued assaults on militants in Sinai.

Egypt's closure of cross-border smuggling tunnels used to move weapons and goods into the Gaza Strip has dealt a major blow to the Palestinian group.

Hamas has recently tried to lower tension with Egypt, ordering Muslim preachers to mute their criticism of Cairo.

Gaza preachers, in fiery sermons, have accused Egypt's army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, of waging war on Islam. Egyptian army officials have accused Hamas of interfering in Egyptian affairs and suggested Palestinians were helping Islamist militants in Sinai, which borders

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