(photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas and Fatah are trading accusations over the gruesome murder of a 14-year-old boy whose decapitated body was found buried in the bedroom of a former Palestinian policeman in the Gaza Strip.
The boy, Mahmoud al-Shaer, of Rafah, disappeared last week shortly after his father sent him to deposit several hundred dollars in a local bank.
Over the weekend, Hamas's security forces arrested Rami Khalifeh, a prominent militiaman from Rafah who has long been involved in drug trafficking and smuggling weapons across the border with Egypt. Khalifeh's younger brother was also arrested as an accomplice.
Hamas described Khalifeh as a senior officer in the former Fatah-controlled security forces in the Gaza Strip. But Fatah responded by saying that the suspect was actually a top member of Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin Kassam.
Rafah residents said the suspect was known as a member of Fatah. They added that he had served briefly as an officer in the Fatah-controlled Preventative Security Service.
Khalifeh, who has confessed to murdering the boy, led Hamas policemen to his bedroom, where he had buried the decapitated body. He said he kidnapped the boy after seducing him to accompany him to his home, where he stole the money he was carrying before murdering him.
Neighbors alerted the police after noticing a bad smell emanating from Khalifeh's home. When the Hamas security forces raided the house, they were shocked to discover the boy's headless body.
In another development, Hamas accused Fatah of being behind a powerful explosion that occurred outside the headquarters of the Hamas-controlled security forces in Gaza City late Friday. No one was hurt in the explosion.
Hamas also claimed that its security forces arrested members of a gang whose members specialized in smuggling drugs and alcohol into the Gaza Strip. It said all the suspects were officers who had served in the Fatah-controlled security forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
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