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Hamas denies role of helping al-Qaida enter Gaza
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19:28, July 10, 2007

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Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, denied on Tuesday Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' allegation that Hamas helps al-Qaida infiltrate into the Gaza Strip.

Abbas said earlier in an interview with Italian Television RAI TV that Hamas, or Islamic Resistance Movement, which took control of the costal enclave on June 14, supported al-Qaida entry into Gaza, implicitly referring to the Army of Islam.

"Hamas doesn't have any link to al-Qaida," Abu Zuhri said in a written statement sent to reporters, adding "Abbas is trying to mislead the world to earn support for his request to deploy international forces in the Gaza Strip."

Abu Zuhri also accused Abbas of trying to break Hamas, which militarily defeated his security forces and occupied his home and office in the Gaza Strip in mid June.

The Army of Islam, a new radical Islamic militant group founded in Gaza about a year ago, was responsible for kidnapping BBC journalist Alan Johnston who was released on July 4 after being held for nearly four months.

The group emerged into the public spotlight in 2006 when it claimed responsibility for the abduction of Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit together with Hamas movement's armed wing al-Qassam Brigades and the Popular Resistance Committees.

Earlier this month, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denied the Army of Islam was linked to al-Qaida group, saying that the group "is a Palestinian armed group involved in confronting previous Israeli ground incursions into the Gaza Strip, therefore I don't believe it is linked to al-Qaida."

Source: Xinhua

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