GAZA (Reuters) - A Hamas security man and a member of a rival Islamist militant group were killed on Thursday in a confrontation in the Gaza Strip near the Palestinian enclave's border with Egypt, security sources said.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has stepped up patrols in the border area with the declared aim of preventing the movement of so-called Jihadist Salafis between the territory and the Sinai peninsula, where Islamic State has been battling Egyptian troops for years.
"A security force stopped two persons who approached the border. One of them blew himself up and was killed. The other was wounded," the Hamas-run Interior Ministry said in a statement.
It said several Hamas security men were hurt, and hospital officials told reporters that one of them died of his wounds.
Security sources said the militant killed in the blast was a member of a Salafi group.
Hamas has been pursuing improved relations with Egypt, which keeps its border crossing with Gaza largely shut and has accused the group in the past of aiding militants in the Sinai. Hamas has denied those allegations.
Gaza's Salafis are proponents of global holy war endorsed by Islamic State and al Qaeda. Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has shown little tolerance for Salafi movements, detaining many of their members and raiding homes in searches for weapons.
(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem and Sandra Maler)