Hamas calls on Egypt to release detained police chief

Hamas calls on Egypt to release detained police chief

Palestinian militant group Hamas Monday demanded that Egypt release a Gaza Strip police chief detained last week on suspicion of involvement in rocket attacks launched from the territory, DPA reported.

Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab al-Ghussein confirmed that Egyptian intelligence officers had on Thursday detained the police chief of Khan Younis, Ibrahim Marouf, as he attempted to return to the Gaza Strip from Egypt, where he had accompanied his sick father for treatment in a Cairo hospital.

Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, breaking ties with the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank.

"Marouf is being interrogated at a security compound at the Sinai city of al-Arish," al-Ghussein said in a statement.

"He might be transferred to Cairo for more questioning. The (Gaza) Ministry of Interior sees no justification for his arrest," he said.

Egyptian security officials have not confirmed his dentention.

Egyptian newspapers have offered contradictory accounts of the justifications behind Marouf's detention.

Cairo's independent daily al-Shorouk on Monday cited anonymous security sources as saying that he had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in rocket attacks against Israel last year.

But the Egyptian daily Youm al-Sabaa, which is closer to the government, cited "well-informed Palestinian sources" as saying that officials at the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo had provided Egypt with intelligence that Marouf had planned attacks against Egypt.

The Palestinian Embassy in Cairo is staffed by officials loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, Hamas' political rivals.

Ties between Egypt and Hamas have further deteriorated in recent weeks, following the fatal shooting of an Egyptian border guard at a Palestinian protest against Egypt's reported plans to build an underground wall to curtail smuggling through cross-border tunnels.

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