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Palestinian President Orders Detained Hamas Members Released

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered his security forces to release hundreds of Hamas members detained in a recent series of West Bank raids.

Mr. Abbas's announcement was made shortly after his Fatah forces rounded up at least 15 Hamas members in the latest sweep in the city of Nablus Thursday.

Hamas recently widened a crackdown in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip against rival factions it suspects of involvement in a deadly bombing last Friday. The militant group blames Fatah for the blast, which killed five Hamas members and a young girl. Fatah denies the charge.

Earlier, Hamas security forces released a Palestinian cameraman five days after he was arrested during the Gaza crackdown against suspected Fatah supporters.

The 42-year-old cameraman, Sawah Abu Seif, works for German television broadcaster ARD, which denies he is a Fatah activist.

The media rights group Reporters Without Borders condemned the arrest. ARD closed its bureau in the Gaza Strip Wednesday in protest.

Human rights groups say both Hamas and Fatah have carried out dozens of politically motivated arrests in the past week, as tensions between the rival Palestinian factions continue to rise.

Earlier this week, Palestinian human rights group Al Haq and New York-based Human Rights Watch accused both Hamas and Fatah of torturing political opponents.

The two Palestinian factions have been at odds since Hamas routed Fatah forces and seized control of Gaza last year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.