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Source: Egypt to fly Palestinians abroad after swap

Reuters

October 18, 2011 | 2:23 am

A convoy transporting Palestinian prisoners is seen near Ofer prison in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad

A convoy transporting Palestinian prisoners is seen near Ofer prison in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Egypt’s government is stepping up security at Cairo airport as it prepares to fly Palestinians freed under a prisoner exchange with Israel out of the country, an Egyptian intelligence source said Tuesday.

Hundreds of Palestinians are being freed in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit under the deal between Gaza’s Hamas Islamist rulers and the Israeli government.

Cairo airport raised security to emergency level as it prepared to transport 40 of the Palestinians to three countries as part of the swap deal, the intelligence source said.

The source said the prisoners were being sent to Turkey, Syria and Qatar and that their travel formalities were being overseen by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.

A Turkish foreign ministry official confirmed that Turkey had agreed to receive some of the prisoners because it would contribute to peace in the region.

“As we have always said, we’re looking at this issue as a humanitarian issue,” the Turkish official said. “Our contribution to this agreement will be to receive a group of Palestinians in Turkey.”

A plane would be sent to Egypt to fly the Palestinians to Turkey, the official said on condition of anonymity, without giving further details.

Additional reporting by Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara; Writing by Tom Pfeiffer, Editing by William Maclean

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