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Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip released at least eight leaders from the rival Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, hours after they were arrested for questioning, Fatah officials said on Saturday.

The Hamas-run Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip said the Fatah men were detained for questioning after holding an "illegal factional meeting". Fatah officials later confirmed that the three men had been released.

They said among those held was Abdel-Rahman Hamad, a former minister in the Palestinian Authority, who had been meeting fellow Fatah members in the city of Gaza.

A spokesman for Fatah said that Hamas had launched a new crackdown on its officials in the Gaza Strip.

Fahmi al-Zaarir said Hamas security forces had arrested the officials throughout the coastal territory in a bid to prevent Fatah from regrouping.

Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza in a bloody coup in 2007. Since then, the Islamist group has periodically detained Fatah activists.

Last week, the rival Palestinian groups adjourned reconciliation talks in Egypt without a breakthrough on the shape or agenda of a national unity government.

The Israel Defense Forces, meanwhile, reported Thursday that during its in offensive in Gaza earlier this year, Hamas executed 14 members of Fatah.

Shortly after the conflict, Hamas accused Fatah of collaborating with Israel in the campaign by providing the Israel Air Force with intelligence on targets.