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article imageEgyptian police protest over abduction closes crossing into Gaza

By Ken Hanly     May 18, 2013 in World
Rafah - Egyptian police are protesting the kidnapping of seven comrades by Islamist gunmen by closing the only crossing from Egypt into the Gaza Strip for a second day.
The closing has stranded hundreds of travellers at the border.The police began the protest on Friday (May17) by stringing barbed wire across the border post at Rafah and then they chained up the gates as well. This was one day after the six police had been abducted. Those abducted consisted of four border policemen working at the Rafah crossing, a riot policeman, and a military border guard. The gunmen who took them are demanding the release of a group of Islamic militant prisoners held at a police station in the North Sinai town of El-Arish.
One of the protesting police said: "We will not open the crossing until the kidnapped soldiers are freed and the interior minister arrives to listen to our demands so that these attacks on us are not repeated." Egyptian security sources also said the the crossing would remain closed until those abducted were released. Normally up to 800 people leave for Egypt through the border crossing each day.It is the only crossing not controlled by Israel.
Since the end of the Mubarak regime radical Islamist groups in the north Sinai have become stronger and have attacked both Egyptian targets and also launched attacks across the border into Israel. The protesters want Egyptian President Morsi to intervene to help obtain the release of their colleagues. On Saturday all seven were still missing. A spokesperson for Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, criticized the closure and claimed that contacts were under way to resolve the issue.
Sami Abu Zuhri told Al Jazeera TV: "There are promises to follow up on the matter, but in spite of these promises the suffering is still building up. We consider the continued closure of the crossing unjustified and incomprehensible."
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