body#layout #main-top { display:none; } -->

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Hamas police storm mosque in Gaza

Six people were killed and 55 wounded in Gaza fighting on Friday when Hamas police stormed a mosque where radicals had declared an Islamist "emirate" in the Palestinian territory, emergency services said.

Shooting was continuing after dark, witnesses said, after clashes began in the afternoon following weekly prayers in the southern city of Rafah, which straddles the Egyptian border.

Among the dead was Mohammed al-Shamali, head of the Hamas military unit for southern Gaza, emergency services said, adding that bodies of some other victims could not be reached because of the intensity of the fighting.

Ten of the wounded were said to be in critical condition as the confrontation developed into one of the most violent incidents in Gaza since Israel's 22-day onslaught on the impoverished enclave in December and January.

An Egyptian security official said a three-year-old boy was critically wounded by a bullet from the fighting across the border.

Witnesses said that following the prayers, a group of Palestinians announced the formation of the Islamist "emirate," defying the authority of Hamas, which has ruled Gaza's 1.5 million people for the past two years.

"We are today proclaiming the creation of an Islamist Emirate in the Gaza Strip," Abdul Latif Musa, a representative of Jund Ansar Allah (Soldiers of the Partisans of God), said at the Bin Taymiyya mosque, the witnesses reported.

Hamas ready to endorse Obama Middle East peace plan.