January 30, 2010 in Nation/World

Hamas claims ‘open war’ after leader’s assassination

Albert Aji Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Khaled Mashaal speaks Friday during the funeral of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
(Full-size photo)

DAMASCUS, Syria – A senior Hamas commander was assassinated last week in a Dubai hotel room by electrocution, the Palestinian militant group said Friday. It accused Israeli agents of killing him and vowed to avenge his death.

Hamas said Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was one of the founders of the group’s military wing, which has been responsible for attacks and suicide bombings targeting Israelis since the 1980s.

Dubai’s government confirmed al-Mabhouh was found dead in a hotel room on Jan. 20, a day after entering the Gulf city. It said in a statement that initial investigations show the crime was likely committed by a “professional criminal gang” and that the suspects left the country before the body was discovered.

Most of the suspects held European passports, the statement said.

Hamas’ top leader, Khaled Mashaal, accused Israel of being behind al-Mabhouh’s death and pledged to hit back.

“We will retaliate for the blood of this man who fought you (Israel) for 30 years, from one battle to the next, and was arming the resistance and supporting it night and day,” Mashaal said while standing next to al-Mabhouh’s coffin at his funeral in Syria.

“You (Israelis) have hurt us with his killing, but it is an ongoing war between us,” he said. “This is an open war.”

Israel’s government, which had sought al-Mabhouh for two decades, had no immediate comment.

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