GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza's Hamas-run Interior Ministry says three Palestinian smugglers who were believed to have been kidnapped in a tunnel along the Egyptian border have returned home.

The ministry said earlier Monday that the men had "disappeared" from a tunnel. Militants from the Islamic State group's local affiliate in neighboring Egypt were suspected.

Later Monday, the ministry said the three men had been located and were back in Gaza. It gave no additional details.

The incident is potentially embarrassing to Hamas, which this month said it had built a buffer zone along the border to refute Egyptian accusations that Hamas has been aiding IS militants.

Egypt is battling IS militants in Sinai, and Hamas has been trying to improve relations with Egypt recently.