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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hamas Battles Islamist Extremists in Gaza; Leader Detonates Himself

Al Jazeera English - Middle East - Islamist leader dies in Gaza battle
The leader of an Islamist group that declared an "Islamic emirate" in the occupied Palestinian territories was among at least 22 people killed in clashes with Hamas security forces.

Abdel-Latif Moussa, the leader of Jund Ansar Allah (Soldiers of the Companions of God), was killed during fighting at his house in the Gaza town of Rafah early on Saturday, the Hamas-run interior ministry said.

Ihab Ghussein, a Hamas interior ministry spokesman, said that Moussa had detonated an explosives vest that he was wearing.

"The so-called Moussa has committed suicide ... killing a mediator who had been sent to him to persuade him and his followers to hand themselves over to the government," he said.

Dr Moaiya Hassanain of the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said that six police officers and an 11-year-old girl were also among the dead after several hours of fighting outside Moussa's home and the Ibn Taymiya mosque where he was imam.

Hassanain said that 150 people were wounded in the fighting.

Hamas also confirmed the death in the fighting of Abu-Jibril Shimali, a high-level commander whom Israel says orchestrated the capture of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier still being held in the Gaza Strip.

The fighting began on Friday after Moussa proclaimed "the creation of an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip" during a sermon in the mosque and called for the territory to be governed purely by sharia (Islamic law).
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