Suspects in Gaza activist's murder killed in Hamas raid

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The Independent Online

Two main suspects for the killing of a pro-Palestinian Italian activist died yesterday and a third was captured during a raid by Hamas security forces, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry said.

Hamas said one of the dead militants, a Jordanian, had shot himself after throwing a grenade that had killed the second when the Hamas forces stormed the building where the suspects had been hiding in the central Gaza Strip.

Three members of the Hamas security forces were also wounded in the battle to capture al-Qa'ida-inspired militants who were behind Vittorio Arrigoni's killing last week.

The group had abducted Mr Arrigoni, 36, on Thursday and threatened to execute him unless their leader, detained by Hamas last month, was freed. Mr Arrigoni was found strangled on Friday.

Three other members of the group were arrested in the raid, though they were not the main suspects the killing. Mr Arrigoni's killing triggered outrage among Palestinians in Gaza and posed an unprecedented challenge to Hamas.

Hamas security forces had surrounded the building earlier in the day. An attempt to negotiate the surrender of the fugitives had failed.

The militants were jihadist Salafists who espouse a more radical form of political Islam than Hamas and appear to be attracting recruits.