DUBAI — Dubai's police chief said Sunday that Israel's spy agency, Mossad, could be behind the murder of a top Hamas leader in a Dubai hotel room.
"It could be Mossad, or another party," police chief Dhahi Khalfan told AFP.
"Personally, I don't exclude any possibility. I don't exclude any party that has an interest in the assassination" of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhuh, Khalfan said.
"There were seven or more people holding passports from different European countries" in the group suspected of killing Mabhuh, Khalfan said.
He refused to name the countries, but added, "we are currently in contact with these European countries to verify the authenticity of the passports."
The hardline Palestinian Hamas movement on Friday accused Israel of assassinating Mabhuh, who was found dead in his hotel room in Dubai on January 20, and vowed revenge.
Hamas has acknowledged that Mabhuh was in Dubai to buy arms for Hamas in its struggle against Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.
Khalfan said that "it seems (Mabhuh) opened the door" of his room, letting his killers in. "Mabhuh was suffocated," Khalfan said, adding that "strangulation is possible."
The Israeli press, meanwhile, hailed the killing, with the rightwing English-language Jerusalem Post calling it "another blow to the 'axis of evil'" that will make it more difficult for Hamas to get arms into its Gaza strip stronghold.
On Sunday, The Times of London, cited unidentified Middle Eastern sources as saying that Mabhuh's body was found by staff at the luxury Al Bustan Rotana hotel in Dubai.
The paper said that Mabhuh was travelling on a false passport and on arrival in Dubai was followed by two men described by local police as "Europeans carrying European passports."
The hit squad injected Mabhuh with a drug that induced a heart attack, photographed all the documents in his briefcase and left a "do not disturb" sign on the door, the paper said.
It added that the Hamas leader was on a mission to buy arms from Iran to Gaza, and was tracked from the moment he boarded Emirates flight EK 912 from Damascus on January 18.
Mabhuh, a founder of Hamas' military wing, was in charge of arms purchases for the militant group.
Dubai, a rich and glitzy city-state that part of the United Arab Emirates federation, has been an exposing its murkier side with several murders and assassination in recent years.
Sulim Yamadayev, a bitter foe of pro-Russia Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, was shot dead in Dubai in March 2009.
In January 2003, Dubai-based businessman Sharad Shetty, suspected to be a close associate of Indian underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, was shot at point-blank range in a gangland-style killing at Dubai's India Club.
Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim was found dead in her Dubai home in July 2008. She had been stabbed to death and her face mutilated.