Escaped prisoner smuggled home

Ibrahim Barzak,Associated Press
Monday 07 February 2011 01:00
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A Hamas militant who escaped from an Egyptian prison during the protests has sneaked back into Gaza using a smuggling tunnel, receiving a hero's welcome by the Palestinian Islamist group.

Egypt arrested Ayman Nofal in the northern Sinai Peninsula town of El-Arish three years ago and accused him of planning bomb attacks. Along with thousands of other prisoners, Nofal took advantage of the chaos in Egypt to escape last week. He returned to Gaza on Saturday.

Welcoming several dozen supporters to his home in a central Gaza refugee camp yesterday, Nofal denied accusations that he was on a Hamas mission when he was arrested. He said he had crossed the border with hundreds of thousands of other Gazans when militants blasted open the border wall in January 2008 to protest Egypt's cooperation with Israel in blockading the territory.

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