A senior Islamist leader was found dead in the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday morning, near the evacuated settlement of Nitzarim south of Gaza city, Palestinian sources and eyewitnesses reported.Mahmoud Basal, senior leader of a group known as “Army of Islam”, was found dead after he was kidnapped by unknown gunmen on Monday.

Local sources said that the Palestinian police placed an umber of checkpoints in the Gaza Strip after they found the body.

Basal was known to be the second man in the group, where the first is known as Mumtaz Dughmush.

Dughmush was an officer in the Palestinian security forces loyal to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before he left and formed the group that he called, the Army of Islam.

The group was previously known as one of three groups responsible for the capture of the Israeli private Gilad Shalit in June 2006. The group has also claimed responsibility for kidnapping the BBC reporter Alan Johnston in March of 2007.