Hamas blames Israel for killing of drone expert in Tunisia

Hamas's armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said Mohammed Zawari, who was gunned down near the city of Sfax. (Reuters)

The Palestinian Hamas group in Gaza blamed Israel on Saturday for the killing in Tunisia this week of a Tunisian national it described as one of its drone experts, and threatened retaliation.

Hamas's armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said Mohammed Zawari, who was gunned down near the city of Sfax on Thursday, had been a member of the group for 10 years and had been supervising its drone program.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, did not offer any evidence to support its accusation. A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

“Qassam Brigades mourns the martyr of Palestine, martyr of the Arab and Muslim nation, the Qassam leader, engineer and pilot Mohammad Zawari, who was assassinated by Zionist treacherous hands on Thursday in Sfax,” a statement posted on the group's website said.

“The enemy must know the blood of the leader Zawari will not go in vain,” the statement said.

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The Tunisian interior ministry said Zawari was killed in his car by multiple gunshots in front of his house in El Ain, near Sfax, on Thursday. Four rental cars were used in the killing and two handguns and silencers were seized, the ministry said.

Television footage aired on local media showed a black Volkswagen with its windows apparently shot out.

A judicial spokesman from Sfax, Mourad Tourki, told Tunisian radio Shems FM eight Tunisian nationals had been arrested in connection with the killing.

One of the suspects is a Tunisian journalist based in Hungary, arrested along with a cameraman. Two other suspects, one of them a Belgian of Moroccan origin, are still at large, Tourki said.

Authorities have not commented on who is suspected of being behind the killing.

Local media said Zawari had returned to Tunisia in 2011 after spending two decades abroad, including in Syria. They gave his age as 49 and said he was a technical director in a private engineering firm and a model aircraft expert.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49
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