Seven Hamas militants killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
GAZA CITY - Seven members of Hamas' military wing were killed when a tunnel built for fighting against Israel collapsed this week in the Gaza Strip, the Islamist movement said on Thursday.
A statement from the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's armed wing, said four militants managed to escape after the collapse late on Tuesday in the northeast of the Palestinian enclave.
Eight militants were initially reported missing by a security source. It was unclear whether the source was mistaken or if the eighth person had later made it out alive.
The collapse comes at a time of renewed focus on tunnels in Gaza, with Israel accusing Hamas of reconstructing them with the aim of attacking it following its 2014 war with Palestinian militants in the enclave when many were destroyed.
The statement from the Al-Qassam Brigades said the men killed were working on rebuilding a tunnel previously used for attacks when the collapse occurred. It was not clear if it was referring to the tunnel that collapsed or another connected to it.
Several idle bulldozers could be seen in an area next to a farm where the tunnel is believed to have been located on Thursday morning. The area is about a kilometre (mile) from the Israeli border.
Such tunnels have been used in the past to store weapons or stage attacks, including by passing under the Israeli border during the 2014 war.