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Hamas Bans Public Prayers in Gaza Strip

The Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas has banned public prayers in the Gaza Strip after the rival Fatah movement used the services to protest Hamas' rule in Gaza.

In a statement Tuesday, the Hamas-led government in Gaza said it decided to ban all gatherings held under the guise of Friday prayers.

Hamas accused Fatah of using the past weeks' outdoor services to incite chaos, trouble and terrorist acts.

Fatah, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, organized the outdoor prayer sessions, accusing Hamas of driving Fatah members out of Gaza's mosques.

During last week's Friday prayers, Hamas forces fired shots into the air and beat and arrested Fatah protesters.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in June after factional fighting with Fatah that killed more than 100 people. President Abbas dismissed the Hamas-led government and named another administration, based in the West Bank.

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