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Monday, December 11, 2006

Three children shot dead in Gaza

Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 09:48 GMT

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Three children shot dead in Gaza

Gunmen in Gaza City have shot dead the three sons of an intelligence
chief linked to the Palestinian party Fatah.
One adult was also killed in the attack which took place in a street
crowded with children on their way to school.

The boys' father was named as Baha Balousheh, who led a crackdown on the
now-ruling Hamas movement 10 years ago.

The BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza says the motive is unclear but Mr
Balousheh's position means he would have made many enemies.

Tensions between Fatah and the Hamas government have frequently led to
gun battles in the streets of Gaza that have killed dozens of people.

The attack came a day after gunmen shot at Interior Minister Saeed
Seyam's convoy in Gaza. Mr Seyam, who is a senior Hamas leader, was unharmed
in that incident.


The attack happened as children were arriving at nine schools which line
Palestine Street in Gaza City's central Rimal district.

The gunmen fired more than 70 bullets at the vehicle in which Mr
Balousheh's children, aged between six and 10, were travelling. At least two
other children were hurt.

Inside the white vehicle with its blacked out passenger windows, the
seats and a school bag were covered in blood.

There were scenes of pandemonium as hundreds of children and parents ran
for cover from the gunfire.

Fatah supporters gathered in the streets vowing revenge for the attack.

Fadwa Nabulsi, a 12-year-old interviewed by the Associated Press, said
she was outside a school with her nine-year-old brother, Wael, when the
shooting started.

"We saw fire coming from one car. We started screaming and children
started running.

"I was crying, and I lost Wael for about half an hour. Then I found him
hiding in a falafel shop. I'm trying to find my father to take us back home,"
she said.

'Ugly crime'

Palestinian police in the area have been trying to help children locate
their parents and Gaza City's Shifa hospital has been flooded with inquiries
from concerned families.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned Monday's attack as an "awful,
ugly crime against innocent children".

He blamed elements who wanted to undermine Palestinian interests by
creating chaos and confusion.

Hamas won a landslide victory in elections in January but its funding
has been choked off by Western donors because it refuses to renounce violence
and recognise Israel.

Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been
considering a request by his allies to hold early elections to resolve an
impasse in efforts to form a unity government.

Hamas denounced the proposal to hold another election as a "coup against

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