Authorities in Egypt have arrested 19 Arabs for suspected links with al-Qaeda, as a top Egyptian minister claimed that the banned outfit was trying to establish terror cells in the Gaza Strip.
Egypt's Interior Minister, General Habib Adli, made the claim in an interview with Al-Ahram newspaper, revealing that Egyptian security forces have arrested 19 suspected al-Qaida militants.
He said security forces also confiscated weapons, ammunition and documents related to al-Qaida. He did not say exactly when or where the arrests took place.
Egypt claimed that Osama bin-Laden's al-Qaeda is trying to establish terror cells in the Gaza Strip, the media report said.
Adli told the Egyptian daily that al-Qaeda militants enter the Gaza Strip through tunnels located in the south near the city of Rafah.
Hamas, the Islamist group which rules Gaza, is trying to prevent the establishment of the al-Qaeda cells, he said, stressing that it was in Egypt's interest to destroy the tunnels.
The 19 al-Qaeda activists arrested by Egypt are suspected of planning suicide bombings at holy sites throughout the country, the Egyptian Interior Minister said, claiming that one of those apprehended is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing at a church in Alexandria on New Year's eve.
The church was hit by a car bomb, killing at least 17 people and leaving 43 others wounded.