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Extremist group claims mortar attack on Hamas in Gaza

May 8, 2015 6:15 P.M. (Updated: May 9, 2015 11:41 A.M.)
Hamas security forces patrol the border area in Rafah. (AFP/Said Khatib)
GAZA CITY (AFP) -- An extremist group that recently emerged in the Gaza Strip claimed Friday a mortar attack on a base belonging to the Hamas movement in charge of the blockaded territory.

The group calling itself Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem said it fired two 82 mm mortar rounds at a base of Hamas's armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

A statement posted online also urged "Muslims in Gaza to stay away from the base in order to protect their own lives."

Witnesses told AFP they heard explosions close to Khan Younis.

But the spokesman of the interior ministry in Gaza, Iyad al-Bozum, denied any mortar fire.

The group's claim is "baseless," he told AFP.

A bomb attack this week targeted Hamas's security headquarters in Gaza after extremists issued a threatening message calling for the release of prisoners.

Hamas security forces arrested a Salafist leader last month, alleging that he was a supporter of the Islamic State group (IS) that holds vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.

Gazan extremists have pledged allegiance to IS in the past, but there has been no confirmation from the group itself that it has a presence in the coastal enclave.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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