Suicide bombers have made a reappearance, but this time Palestinians are the ones to pay the price. Sources in Gaza have reported that during the bloody clashes which broke out on Friday in Rafah (in the southern part of the Gaza Strip) between Hamas militants and fighters from the ultra-radical Salafite group Jund Ansar Allah ('God's Warriors'), allied with Al-Qaeda, the latter group made use of two suicide bombers. In the battle - the worst since Hamas took control of Gaza from its rival, Fatah, two years ago - and the subsequent hunting down of the Islamic extremists, 22 were killed - including five civilians and six Hamas militants - and over 120 injured. According to ANSA sources, during the battle it was allegedly a suicide bomber who blew himself up before being able to strike against Hamas (Abu Abdallah al-Suri, a pro-Al-Qaeda militant who had escaped from Syria to Gaza) to kill the Jund Ansar Allah leader Abdelatif Mussa, a doctor-turned- Islamic preacher. Hamas sources instead say that Mussa chose to blow himself up along with some of his followers in his own home instead of giving himself up. The second suicide bomber was reportedly a Palestinian named Abdallah Awadallah, who was attempting to kill Hamas members but did not succeed. Before the clashes began, Mussa gave rise to Hamas's fury in a Rafah mosque by proclaiming the establishment of an Islamic emirate and accusing Hamas of weakness in the application of Islamic laws, as well as acting in the manner of a secular government. Hamas reacted ruthlessly to what it saw as a challenge to its authority in the Gaza Strip. Militants surrounded the mosque where Abdelatif and his followers were, about a hundred of whom were armed, and ordered that they give themselves up. Instead, a battle broke out which continued for hours with much use of heavy weaponry, including machine guns and rockets. Rafah inhabitants spoke of a "day of horror". The Palestinian organisation for human rights in Gaza Al-Dameer has requested a thorough inquiry and accused Hamas of using excessive force. Taher An-Nunu, spokesman in the de facto government of Hamas, said that Jund Ansar Allah was responsible for a series of attacks using explosives on internet cafes, restaurants, hairdressers and Western meeting places. Hamas, which prevented the press from closely following the battle and conducting interviews in hospitals, said that it would not tolerate the presence of rival Islamic groups and that it would use harsh measures to prevent any such groups constituting themselves. According to Hamas, Jund Ansar Allah was also supported by other Arab regimes and elements connected with the secret services of the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas. In Ramallah, the latter denied any such involvement.(ANSAmed).
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