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World - Middle East

Palestinians release senior Islamic Jihad militant


January 23, 1999
Web posted at: 6:54 p.m. EST (2354 GMT)

GAZA (Reuters) -- Palestinian police released a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad movement for the Muslim Eid al-Fitr festival, a family member said Saturday.

"He was released last Monday, the first day of Eid al-Fitr," said a relative of Abdallah al-Shami, who had been held by the Palestinian police since December 14.

Shami's arrest followed his televised condemnation of U.S. President Bill Clinton's visit to the Palestinian self-ruled areas last December. He said Clinton was on a "satanic mission."

"Clinton will always be remembered in our memories and history as one of the greatest enemies of the Palestinians," Shami said in the television interview.

Palestinian police released 54 prisoners, including members of Hamas and other opposition groups, last week to mark the Eid al-Fitr feast.

Israel has denounced the release as a violation of peace deals that included Palestinian commitments to fight militant groups opposed to peace with Israel.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants have killed scores of Israelis in suicide attacks.

A top Hamas leader, Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, who has been imprisoned since April, was still being held in a Palestinian prison.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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