Hamas arrests 20 Fatah men

2007-08-11 12:54
Gaza - Forces from the Islamist militant group Hamas detained some 20 members and supporters of President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah group in Gaza on Friday in one of the largest such sweeps since Hamas seized the territory.

Fatah and Hamas spokespeople said at least four senior Fatah members were taken into custody in the northern town of Beit Hanoun.

A Fatah source said Hamas forces arrested at least 15 supporters of the group in Khan Younis, located in south Gaza.

"Four Fatah leaders were arrested not because of who they are, but for violating public security," said Saber Khalifa, a spokesman for Hamas's Executive Force, without elaborating.

He added the men were being interrogated.

Protest against arrests

Beit Hanoun residents said Hamas forces fired into the air to disperse relatives of the detainees, mainly women, who protested against the arrests near an Executive Force post. They said one man was wounded.

There was no immediate Hamas comment on the arrests in Khan Younis.

Hamas forces on Thursday detained for several hours a hospital doctor affiliated with Fatah, a day after he was fired from his managerial post. His arrest had prompted protests by his fellow medical workers.

Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June following weeks of battles against Fatah militants.

Control of Gaza

The Islamist group won a parliamentary vote last year and was part of a unity government with Fatah before talks broke down prior to the violence.

Abbas has refused to recognise Hamas's former government, which now control Gaza. Hamas has also accused Fatah forces of arresting scores of its members in the West Bank, where the president still holds power.

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