An Israeli air strike killed the Palestinian leader of an al Qaida-affiliated group in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Hamas and medical sources said.
Gaza Medics said a second militant was also killed in the strike. The after-dark attack targeted the two men who were riding a motorcycle in the northern town of Jabaliya.
The interior ministry of Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, said one of the men killed was Hisham Saedni, also known as Abu Al-Waleed Al-Maqdissi, believed to head the Jihadist Salafi group Tawhid and Jihad (One God and Holy War).
Sources from Tawhid and Jihad could not be reached to confirm that Saedni was killed.
The group, rival to Hamas, has an Islamist ideology shared by al Qaida and sources have said that Saedni joined al Qaida in Iraq at the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
In March 2011 Hamas detained Saedni for 17 months and had freed him in August.
Last year members identifying themselves with Tawhid and Jihad kidnapped and killed a pro-Palestinian Italian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni, in an apparent attempt to secure the release of Saedni.
An Israeli military spokesman could not confirm Saedni was the target of the air strike. A written military statement said the two men targeted were "terror operatives of the Shora Council of the Mujahideen, a Gaza-based Global Jihad affiliate."
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