Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Woman tries to hide live smuggled crocs under her dress

A Palestinian woman was found to have three live crocodiles strapped to her stomach when she was stopped by EU officials at Gaza's border with Egypt.

The reptiles, each around 40-50cm (15-20 inches) long, were taped to the woman's body beneath her dress.

But despite her loose fitting robe, suspicions were raised by her girth, an EU spokeswoman told the BBC.

The woman told border guards she intended to sell the crocodiles to a zoo in Gaza City.

She was stopped last week but later released.

The reptiles were sent back to Egypt.

EU spokeswoman Maria Telleria Chavarri said the discovery had caused amazement among border officials.

She said border guards have in the past foiled attempts to smuggle exotic birds and two lion cubs into Gaza.

"It's illegal to smuggle such animals. Crocodiles are protected under UN regulations," she added.

The EU's Border Assistance Mission has been assisting with security in the area since November 2005.

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