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Hamas Arrests Top Fatah Officials in Gaza

By VOA News

01 August 2008

Hamas security forces have arrested senior leaders of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction in the Gaza Strip, increasing tensions between rival factions.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, said the arrests Friday were a direct response to the recent detention of Hamas leaders in the Fatah-controlled West Bank.

On Thursday, President Abbas ordered his security forces to release hundreds of Hamas members detained in a recent series of West Bank raids. Hamas says, so far, none of the officials have been freed.

Hamas recently widened a crackdown against rival factions in the Gaza Strip. It blames Fatah for a bombing last Friday that killed five Hamas members and a young girl. Fatah denies the charge.

Human rights groups say both Hamas and Fatah have carried out dozens of politically motivated arrests in the past week.

Earlier this week, Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq and New York-based Human Rights Watch accused both Hamas and Fatah of torturing political opponents.

The two Palestinian factions have been at odds since Hamas routed Fatah forces and seized control of Gaza last year.

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