Hamas commander killed in Gaza

Special to World
Monday, February 23, 2004

GAZA CITY A Hamas commander has been killed in an explosion in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources said Abdul Salam Abu Mussa was killed in an explosion in Khan Yunis in the central Gaza Strip on Sunday. Abu Mussa was identified as a commander of Hamas in the region.

Abu Mussa might have been killed as he was firing a mortar toward the Israeli bloc of communities in Gush Katif, the sources said. Another possibility was that he was assassinated by an Israeli bomb embedded in one of his personal belongings, such as a cellular phone.

Hamas did not confirm the killing. In late 2003, Abu Mussa escaped an Israeli missile attack on his home in Khan Yunis.

In an earlier statement, Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rantisi said the bombing of Jerusalem in which eight people were killed was a revenge attack for an Israeli military offensive against Palestinian insurgents in Gaza City.

"At that time, nationalist and Muslim factions said they planned to retaliate for this [Israeli] terrorism," Rentisi told the A-Jazeera satellite channel. "As a result, it's our claim that this deed is an act in defense of Palestinians, the Palestinian state, and the Palestinian holy places. It tells the whole world that unless there's an end to the misery of the Palestinian people, the fighting won't ever stop."

Israeli military sources said Hamas despite a Fatah claim of responsibility was believed to have been responsible for the Jerusalem suicide attack. They said Israel would restrain its response to the bombing.

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