December 7, 2013
Cairo accuses Hamas of training Egypt militants
Egyptian state television accused Palestinian Hamas of training Egyptian Islamists in how to carry out bombings, putting more pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood, ally of Hamas.
In neighbouring Gaza, the ruling Hamas party strongly denied the allegations.
Egypt has faced turmoil since the army forced the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi 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.
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.
"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 demonise Hamas", he added.
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 Gaza and Israel.
At Gaza street rallies, Hamas fighters have flashed a four-finger salute - a show of support for Morsi.
His ousting was seen as a setback for Hamas, and came as the group's ties with traditional allies Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah party have also suffered over its siding with rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Security sources said the former chief of staff under Morsi, Mohamed Rifaa el-Tahtawy, was detained on Thursday on charges of espionage. He had been detained in August over accusations of inciting the detention, torture and interrogation of protesters in 2012, but was released on Tuesday.