CAIRO (AP) - The leader of the Palestinian group Hamas says there is broad cooperation between his group and Egypt's security government, dismissing reports that Hamas is endangering Egypt's national security.
Khaled Mashaal's comments in a conference Thursday in Cairo follow unconfirmed Egyptian media reports linking Hamas to increased lawlessness in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders the Gaza Strip ruled by Hamas.
The reports accused Hamas of orchestrating one of the bloodiest attacks against Egypt's army in decades. In August 2012, 16 soldiers were killed along the Gaza-Egypt border. Hamas has strongly denied that it was involved.
Mashaal called the accusations "defamations," and said it is Hamas' duty to protect Egypt's security.
Hamas leaders were in Cairo this week to meet with security, intelligence and military officials.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)