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Hamas 'cracking down on Salafi fighters'

Sept. 4, 2012 5:56 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 6, 2012 1:53 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Hamas security forces have detained 20 Salafi fighters in the Gaza Strip in a move to prevent rocket fire into Israel, a Salafi jihadist group said Tuesday.

The Salifist Jihadist Groups in the Environs of Jerusalem said 20 fighters were detained, and that security forces confiscated homemade projectiles and light weapons belonging to Salafi militants.

"Families of the fighters were assaulted by security forces during the arrests," the groups said in a statement, adding that several Salafi activists and leaders had been summoned by security services in Gaza.

The groups said Hamas security forces were seeking information about fighters affiliated to the Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, which has claimed responsibility for firing cross-border rockets and a June attack on Israel from Sinai. Israeli forces have assassinated several Salafi leaders.

Army of the Nation commander Abu Hafs al-Maqdisi remains in the custody of Hamas internal security services and a senior leader in the group, Abu Suhayb Rashwan, was detained weeks ago as he left hospital, where he was recovering from injuries sustained in an Israeli strike on Rafah in July.

Salifist Jihadist Groups in the Environs of Jerusalem warned Hamas there would be consequences for targeting their militants and said Salafi leaders "will not turn themselves in at any price."

Hamas has come under mounting pressure to crack down on Salafi fighters since 16 Egyptian officers were killed in an attack in Sinai. Egypt said Palestinian militants were involved in the operation.

Jihadi Salafi groups in Gaza have denied involvement in the attack and insisted their only fight was with Israel.

Since it took control of the enclave in 2007, Hamas has launched several crackdowns on armed Salafi groups, notably following attacks on women and Christians. In 2009, Hamas raided a mosque and killed 28 people after a Salafi imam declared an Islamic emirate in Gaza.
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