Source AP ©

Well-known religious scholar from Hamas abducted by unknown gunmen

Masked gunmen abducted a well-known religious scholar from Hamas as he returned from evening prayers at a local mosque in Gaza City.

Ali Sharif, in his 70s, was snatched outside his home in the Sabra neighborhood, a Hamas stronghold. Sharif's daughter, who would not give her first name, said that when neighbors tried to rescue him, the kidnappers open fire, then bundled her father into a car and drove off.

The kidnapping came during a new spike in fighting between Hamas and Fatah gunmen. Earlier in the day, three people were killed in shooting attacks, including a local Fatah militant leader and his bodyguard.

Sharif is a teacher at the Islamic University.

Marwan Abu Ras, a Hamas lawmaker and chairman of the Palestinian Scholars' Association, said he held Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah, responsible for Sharif's safety. However, he stopped just short of accusing Fatah gunmen of being involved in the kidnapping.

In previous rounds of fighting, Hamas and Fatah had snatched dozens of activists as a pressure tactic.