Four Palestinians kidnapped at gunpoint from a bus at the entrance to Sheikh Zuweid late Wednesday are members of Hamas, Egyptian security officials said, and are being held hostage by Sinai Province, a militant group which has pledged allegiance to IS [Daesh].
Egyptian officials told Ma'an that the four Hamas members, identified as Abd al-Basit Abd al-Dayim, Abdullah Said Abdullah Abu Jibbeen, Yasir Fathi Misbah Zanoun and Hussein Khamis al-Thabda, were taken hostage by the IS-affiliated group in Sinai as a bargaining chip to force Hamas to release some 50 Salafists being imprisoned in Gaza.
Negotiations have reportedly begun between Hamas and the militant group, with the involvement of both Palestinian and Egyptian mediators.
Initial investigations suggest the Hamas members were taken to the al-Tuma village south of Sheikh Zuweid.
Sources close to the Sinai Province group have said the four kidnapped Hamas members would be killed if Hamas did not comply with the group's demands.
Sinai Province changed its name in November after the group pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State group.
The militant's attacks have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, allegedly in response to the bloody repression launched by Egyptian authorities under Sisi's control, which has seen at least 1,400 killed and thousands more jailed.
Since last summer's devastating war in Gaza, there have been growing signs of internal unrest between Hamas security forces and other militant groups, with a string of small-scale explosions.
There have also been attacks claimed by groups purporting to be from an IS branch in Gaza, although such claims have so far been largely discredited by online militant forums.
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