Egypt releases 33 Hamas members

 

Egypt on Sunday released 33 members of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas who had been detained after crossing from the Gaza Strip, a security official told AFP.

 

"They have been released and have just crossed into the Gaza Strip from Rafah," the official said.

 

On Thursday, Hamas accused Egypt of torturing its members. It said Egypt had 39 in custody and had already released 90 members.

 

"The Hamas prisoners suffered all sorts of torture. Those who have been freed have given accounts of being tortured and of interrogations, which have nothing to do with the security of Egypt," said a Hamas official, on condition of anonymity.

 

Most entered Egypt in January along with hundreds of thousands of people who crossed the frontier after militants breached a border wall near the Rafah crossing.

 

The fate of the prisoners has been discussed in recent meetings between Egyptian officials and Hamas representatives in the Egyptian town of El Arish.

 

One of the Islamist movement's leaders in Gaza, Said Siam, said in an interview on a website sympathetic to the movement that he "deeply regrets that dozens of Palestinians are still being held in Egyptian prisons."

 

He said he had "reliable information" that among those being held were "certain heads of the Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades (the armed branch of Hamas) who have been subjected to the most extreme torture".

 

He said Egyptian interrogators had questioned the prisoners about the possible location of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, missing since his June 2006 abduction near Gaza, as well as the movements of senior Hamas official Ismail Haniya. (AFP)

 

 

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