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'Hamas field commander dies in tunnel collapse'

A senior fighter from the armed wing of the Islamist Hamas movement died on Wednesday in a tunnel collapse in the central Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian medics and the armed group.

world Updated: Dec 02, 2009 14:03 IST

A senior fighter from the armed wing of the Islamist Hamas movement died on Wednesday in a tunnel collapse in the central Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian medics and the armed group.

"Yasser Sabri Radi, 37, a field commander in the Qassam Brigades from Nuseirat Camp in central Gaza, was martyred on Wednesday morning while undertaking a jihad-related task," the group said in a statement.

The statement did not specify the cause of death, but Palestinian medics said Radi died in a tunnel collapse.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas which has ruled the Gaza Strip since June 2007, is believed to use networks of tunnels throughout the territory to hide out, store weapons and launch attacks.

In June 2006, fighters from Hamas and two other armed Palestinian groups tunnelled under the Gaza-Israel border and attacked a military post, killing two Israeli soldiers and capturing a third, who is still being held in Gaza.

Hamas has demanded some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the soldier, Gilad Shalit, who has become a cause celebre in Israel.