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Former Hamas official released by gunmen in Syria

April 17, 2012 10:27 A.M. (Updated: April 18, 2012 8:19 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A former senior Hamas official has been released from captivity in Syria, after being held for two days by unidentified gunmen, his Gaza-based family told Ma'an.

Mustafa Liddawi was seized at gunpoint near his home in Damascus' al-Yarmouk refugee camp on Saturday. It was not immediately clear who was behind his capture.

His family said he was released late Monday night. They told Ma'an he was tortured during interrogation and taken to a hospital in al-Yarmouk.

Hamas has moved its political office from Syria amid the deadly violence across the country. Liddawi, a former Hamas representative to Tehran, was deported from the Gaza Strip by Israel in 1991.

The Palestinian community in Syria has not been spared the violent conflict as President Bashar Assad battles an uprising against his rule.

Al-Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, has experienced a number of deadly incidents.

A Syrian security official threatened to raid the camp due to Fatah's alleged support of anti-Assad demonstrations, sources in the camp told Ma'an in March.

Days later, a vehicle belonging to the Palestinian Liberation Army in the camp was hit by an explosion that killed three people.

Last June, 14 Palestinians in the same camp were reported killed and another 43 injured after attacking the headquarters of leftist group PFLP-GC amid tensions between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime, PA official news agency Wafa reported at the time.

In August, thousands of Palestinian refugees fled a camp in Latakia as the port city came under fire Syrian tanks and gunboats, provoking outrage from the PLO.

In official statements, all Palestinian factions are reluctant to speak about the violence rocking Syria, and insist that Palestinians must keep out of the country's internal conflict.
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