Middle East

Five Hamas militants killed in Gaza tunnel collapse

Palestinians militants from various armed factions, including Hamas, attend a news conference in Gaza City June 17, 2014. (REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)

GAZA CITY: An explosion killed at least five members of Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, in a tunnel under the Israeli border Thursday, Palestinian officials said.

"Five martyrs were killed in a resistance activity in Saghira neighborhood" in eastern Gaza City, the local Hamas information office said, without elaborating.

A security source told AFP the "accidental explosion" happened "inside of an Al-Qassam Brigades tunnel, which collapsed on some 12 members."

Eyewitnesses reported a large explosion near the border with Israel.

The Israeli army told AFP they had no knowledge of the incident.

Hamas, which ruled the Gaza Strip since June 2007, formally relinquished power over it on June 2, when Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas appointed a government of independents under a unity agreement.

But Hamas security forces remain in place in Gaza, and the Brigades were not disarmed, as the deal does not relate to the military factions of Palestinian movements.

In addition to tunnels dug under the Egyptian border to smuggle goods, militant Gaza groups use tunnels to infiltrate beyond Israel's lines.





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