JERUSALEM (JTA) — Clashes between Hamas security officials and an Islamist group with links to al-Qaida left at least 22 dead in Gaza.
Among Saturday’s dead was Abdel Latif Moussa, leader of the radical Islamist group Jund Ansar Allah, or Warriors of God, an 11-year-old girl and six Hamas policemen, according to reports. At least 150 people were wounded.
The clashes began Friday in Rafah after Moussa spoke during prayers saying Gaza was being "reborn" as "an Islamic emirate loyal to Osama bin Laden." He said sharia, the Islamic religious law system, would be set up in the coastal strip.
Hamas security forces surrounded the Rafah mosque and engaged in a shootout with the 100 Islamists that had taken it over.
Hamas said Moussa detonated an explosive belt he was wearing, according to Ha’aretz. The Interior Ministry in Gaza told The New York Times that Moussa died in an explosion at his home near the mosque early Saturday morning that could have been touched off by explosives stored in his home detonating when shots were fired by Hamas security.
Gaza reportedly has several hundred al-Qaida supporters who oppose the Hamas government for not enforcing sharia law.