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Egypt Issues New Army Uniforms to Combat Impersonations

March 18 (Bloomberg) -- The Egyptian army issued new camouflage uniforms to some of its soldiers, saying that would make it tougher for “infiltrators” to whip up unrest by impersonating troops.

General Osama Askar, head of Egypt’s Third Army in Suez, said the new uniforms were issued in his region after the military received information that gunmen equipped with uniforms and weapons were planning to pose as troops and incite protesters against the army, state-run Ahram Gate reported today. The newspaper did not say why the new uniforms were issued only to soldiers in Suez.

Yesterday, the army said it confiscated cloth waiting to be smuggled into the neighboring Hamas-run Gaza Strip that was identical to material used for military and police uniforms. It urged citizens to be on alert for possible impersonators.

President Mohamed Mursi has accused agitators of exploiting the rifts and deepening poverty still roiling Egypt two years after Hosni Mubarak was overthrown. He has not provided evidence and critics have accused him of using the threat of agitation to deflect responsibility for growing unrest that’s gripping the country.

The military has suggested militants operating in Gaza might have planned attacks on Egyptian forces, and has declared it would destroy the network of smuggling tunnels underneath the Gaza-Egypt frontier that serve as a conduit for weapons and militants, as well as commercial goods. It began flooding some of the tunnels with sewage last month.

Attacks against military and police targets in Egypt’s northern Sinai peninsula, which borders Gaza, have surged in recent months, including 15 bombings of the now-idle gas pipeline to Israel.

Last year, militants killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in an ambush near a border crossing with Gaza. The military said the assailants may have been supported by “elements” in Gaza.

To contact the reporter on this story: Salma El Wardany in Cairo at selwardany@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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