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Hamas releases jailed Salafi leader

Dec. 10, 2012 12:49 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 12, 2012 12:26 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip on Sunday released the leader of a Salafi group who had been jailed for more than four months.

Jaysh al-Ummar, or Army of the Nation, said their leader Abu Hafs al-Maqdisi was freed late Sunday by Hamas security services.

Al-Maqdisi was detained by internal security agents on July 29, the group said.

His arrest came amid an arrest campaign of Salafi members, after Egypt blamed jihadis for an attack on their border with Israel that killed 16 Egyptian officers. Salafi groups in Gaza denied involvement.

Al-Maqdisi was also jailed last year. The Hamas government has periodically cracked down on Salafi groups, to enforce ceasefires with Israel and after internal violence. The Salafis are at odds with Hamas over demands for enforcement of more conservative social norms in Gaza.

In 2009, Hamas raided a mosque and killed 28 people after a Salafi imam declared an Islamic emirate in Gaza.

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