At least 24 Palestinians have been killed and more than 120 wounded in
the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip during clashes between rival Islamic
Hamas security forces launched a fierce assault on a mosque in Gaza,
and the leader of a rival Islamic group inspired by al-Qaida was killed
along with many of his armed followers. Hamas officials say more than a
dozen gunmen from Jund Ansar Allah, or the Soldiers of the Followers of
God, were killed, as well as several Hamas policemen and an 11-year-old
Hamas accused the leader of the group, Abdel-Latif Moussa, of treason after he gave a fiery sermon at Friday prayers.
declared Gaza an Islamic emirate - challenging Hamas rule with a more
radical form of Islam. Hamas says Moussa was killed when he blew up an
explosives vest he was wearing during the shootout.
charged that al-Qaida, the group responsible for the September 11th
terrorist attacks on the United States, has infiltrated Gaza from the
outside. But Ihab Ghussein, a spokesman for the Hamas Interior
Ministry, denied that.
Ghussein said Moussa's group was
Palestinian and had no external ties. He said the group has carried out
bomb attacks on Internet cafés and wedding parties, in what he
described as a misguided attempt to impose Islamic Law on Gaza.
many Palestinians are secular, especially in the West Bank, Hamas has
been reluctant to impose strict Islamic Law on Gaza, saying it prefers
to set a pious example for people to follow.
control of Gaza in the Palestinian civil war two years ago, routing the
Fatah forces of President Mahmoud Abbas, who now heads a more moderate
government in the West Bank. Since then Hamas has violently quelled any
resistance by Fatah and other groups in Gaza.
Responding to the latest clashes, Hamas said it put down a coup by "outlaws."