March 4, 2011 / 12:31 PM / 6 years ago

Hamas arrest head of al Qaeda-linked group in Gaza

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GAZA, March 4 (Reuters) - Hamas forces arrested a top commander of an al Qaeda-linked group in Gaza this week, sources close to the enclave's Islamist rulers said on Friday.

Hesham al-Sa'eedni was arrested on Monday. He is believed to be an Egyptian citizen and a senior member of the Tawheed And Jihad group linked to al Qaeda, the sources said.

Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday that al-Sa'eedni's group was involved in a series of attacks in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, among them a 2006 attack on a hotel that killed 19 people.

Hamas, which has in the past denied any al Qaeda presence in Gaza, has been trying to keep other Islamist groups in check following a devastating Israeli military offensive in 2009.

Hamas officials were not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Alison Williams)

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