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Last Updated: Monday, 9 July 2007, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
Gaza lion freed after two years
Lions in Gaza Zoo
Sabrina (l) was instantly recognised by her brother Sakher

A lioness has been reunited with her brother in the Gaza Zoo after being released by Hamas from a clan who had abducted her nearly two years ago.

Sabrina was kidnapped aged just three months, shortly after being brought to the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

Hamas militiamen say they freed her after a shootout with the clan members.

Gaza has been under Hamas control since 15 June, when they defeated forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Zoo officials say Sabrina is in poor health and very tired, and shows signs of mistreatment.

"The thieves had cut off the end of her tail, the black hair that is considered to be the symbol of pride of African lions. I am very sad for her. She must have felt very humiliated," zoo veterinarian Saoud al-Shawa told the Reuters news agency.

He added that her captors were charging tourists to be photographed with her.

Zoo officials said Sabrina's brother Sakher, who had roared inconsolably when his sister was stolen, instantly recognised her and the pair started to play.

The Islamist movement Hamas took control of Gaza on 15 June after routing the security forces loyal to Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah movement now controls the West Bank.

They have vowed to impose law and order in Gaza.

Gaza gang seizes lion in zoo raid
28 Nov 05 |  Middle East

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