Lebanon arrests five Sudanese trying to cross into Israel illegally

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The Lebanese army said Saturday that it had arrested five Sudanese who tried to slip illegally into Israel, the latest in a growing number of attempted crossings.

Three of the five were arrested on Friday night after slipping across near the border village of Ayta al-Shaab, an army statement said.

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The other two were arrested as they prepared to cross, it added.

The Israeli army said it had apprehended three of the Sudanese and sent them back to Lebanon.

A spokeswoman said it was believed the men planned to seek work in Israel, which is home to more than 6,000 Sudanese asylum seekers, according to January figures.

Earlier this month, Israeli forces caught five Sudanese men who tried to cross illegally and sent them back.

Lebanon remains technically at war with Israel, having never signed a peace treaty with its neighbor, which occupied a swathe of the south from 1978 to 2000.

Sudan too remains technically at war with Israel, having fought alongside Egypt in successive Middle East wars.

In February, the leaders of the two countries met in Uganda for what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office described as talks aimed at normalizing ties.

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