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Hamas leader dead after 'accidental' gunshot to head

By Ray Downs
Hamas leader dead after 'accidental' gunshot to head
Members of Haamas carry the body of Hamas senior leader Imad al-Alami in al-Omari mosque during his funeral in Gaza City on Tuesday. Photo by Mohammed Saber/EPA-EFE

Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Imad al-Alami, a co-founder of Hamas and senior official of the group, died Tuesday after he allegedly shot himself in the head earlier this month.

Alami, 62, had been on life support since Jan. 9 after he shot himself "while examining his personal weapon in his home," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, according to the Jerusalem Post.

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The Forward reported that hundreds of Palestinians, including many senior Hamas leaders, attended his funeral procession Tuesday.

"Hamas was Abu Hamam and Abu Hamas was Hamas," said Hamas Politburo Chief Ismail Haniyeh. "He was able to deal with changes and transformations and prescribe [appropriate] policies and strategies for the different periods of time."

There is no independent confirmation that Alami accidentally shot himself in the head and some rumors suggest he might have attempted suicide or was assassinated.

Hamas denied those rumors and insisted his shooting was the result of an accident.

Alami's most recent position in Hamas was as an elected deputy, which he held until last year, the BBC reported.

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Before he stepped down, Alami was reportedly involved in ceasefire talks with Israel and was involved in the release of a captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit in 2011. The Palestinians released Shalit to Israel in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners.

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