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Hunt for three Irish passport holders over murder of Hamas leader

Three people named by police in Dubai as being part of an elaborate hit squad which killed a senior Hamas commander were carrying Irish passports.

Authorities in the Middle East yesterday identified the three people in the 11-strong team which killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his luxury hotel room last month.

The murder has sparked outrage in Palestine with Hamas accusing Israel's Mossad secret service of carrying out the killing. It has pledged to strike back.

Al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of Hamas's military wing, was found dead in a Dubai luxury hotel on January 20.

He had engineered the capture of two Israeli soldiers during the Palestinian uprising in the 1980s. The soldiers were later killed.

Yesterday, Dubai's police chief Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said the team comprised of six British passport holders, three Irish and one each from France and Germany.

The three allegedly involved, who were carrying Irish passports, were named as Gail Folliard, Evan Dennings and Kevin Daveron.

Last night a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin said they were aware of the allegations.

“Our embassy in Abu Dhabai is the touch with the Emirates authorities on a daily basis but we have received no official confirmation that any Irish nationals were involved,” the spokesbman said.

Israel has so far declined to comment on alleged involvement in the plot.

However last night Lt Gen Tamim said it was possible that “leaders of certain countries gave orders to their intelligence agents to kill” Mabhouh. Forensic tests indicate al-Mabhouh died of suffocation, but lab analyses are still under way to pinpoint possible other factors in his death.

Top Hamas figures have denied reports that he was en route to Iran, which is a major Hamas backer.

But the group has not given clear reasons for his presence in Dubai.

A highly organised operation in the hours before the killing has been sketched out by Dubai authorities.

A news conference saw surveillance video of the alleged assassination team arriving on separate flights to Dubai the day before al-Mabhouh was found dead.

The killing took place about five hours after he arrived at the hotel and all 11 suspects were out of the United Arab Emirates within 19 hours of their arrivals.

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