Monday, July 2, 2007

Fighting breaks out in Gaza between Hamas and Army of Islam

The Ma'an news agency reports that clashes erupted in Gaza City on Sunday night between the Army of Islam, with the powerful Dughmosh clan, and the Hamas movement.

Army of Islam said that Hamas and the Executive Force injured the group's leader, Khattab Maqdisi, before abducting him. In retaliation, Army of Islam kidnapped ten Hamas members.

"A group affiliated to Khattab opened fire at members of the Executive Force before fighting erupted and Khattab was abducted," Hamas said.

The spokesperson of Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, said "we received information that Khattab, and groups affiliated to him, intended to vandalise areas of Gaza City. After he opened fire at the Executive Force, Khattab was arrested.

"At the same time the Dughmosh family abducted ten university students, who may be Hamas loyalists."

With regards to whether Khattab was injured, Abu Zuhri did not give a clear answer. He said "Hamas will investigate the issue and secure law and order, preventing any group from dragging Gaza back into the state of chaos."

Army of Islam, which was established in 2006 in the Gaza Strip, has conducted a number of operations, including the abduction of BBC reporter, Alan Johnston. Johnston continues to be detained.

The group is also one of the partners in the kidnapping of Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.


Might this be linked to a Hamas lead rescue operation to free Alan Johnston and Gilad Shalit?