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Egypt reopens Gaza border crossing after soldiers released


18:00, May 22, 2013

GAZA, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian authorities reopened the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip Wednesday after seven kidnapped Egyptian soldiers were released.

"The crossing opened its gates in two directions at 09:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT)," said Maher Abu Sabha, a Hamas official, adding there had been about 4,000 Palestinian travelers waiting on the Egyptian side of the crossing.

Egyptian policemen kept the crossing shut for five days in protest of the abduction of their colleagues in the Sinai Peninsula. The security members were released at dawn.

Ismail Haneya, Hamas' prime minister, congratulated Cairo on retrieving its security personnel.

Last Thursday, a group of militants abducted seven military and police recruits in North Sinai's Green Valley, some 20 km away from the Egyptian governorate's capital of Arish, demanding the release of their family members who were kept in Tora prison.

After the kidnapping, Hamas beefed up security along Gaza's border with Egypt, tightening the monitoring on smuggling tunnels beneath the frontier for fears that the kidnappers may move their hostages into Gaza.

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