Cairo has demanded that Hamas extradite three top operatives with the Salafi terror group Army of Islam, who authorities say have been implicated in Sunday's deadly terror attack, the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Friday.
According to the report, Hamas is inclined to refuse.
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Sixteen Egyptian border patrolmen were killed in the attack, prompting an unprecedented military sweep of Sinai by Cairo's military, with aim of purging the area of its terror hubs.
Thus far, Egyptian media reported that 60 gunmen were killed. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's forces are said to be hunting over 2,000 terrorists.
Egypt is seeking the arrest of AOI leader Mumtaz Durmush as well as two of his deputies.
Hamas neither confirmed no denied the demand, but top Politburo delegate in Gaza Mahmoud al-Zahar confirmed that Egypt had "expressed interest in several individuals."
Hamas spokesman in the Palestinian Parliament Dr. Salah Bardawil, however, denied any such petition was made.
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat's sources said that Gaza's rulers are unlikely to meet the demand, as Hamas believes that even if Gaza-based Salafi gunmen participated in the attack, it is likely that it was a "private initiative" rather than a sanctioned AOI operation.
Hamas also wishes to distance itself from Egypt's latest "anti-Gaza" campaign.
The demand to turn over the three Salafist militants followed a similar demand made by Egypt on Thursday this time to turn over three senior members of Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades – the group's military wing.
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