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Thursday, February 1, 2007

6 killed, dozens wounded as Palestinian cease-fire unravels

6 killed, dozens wounded as Palestinian cease-fire unravels
AP and staff,
Feb. 1, 2007

Gunfights between Hamas and Fatah gunmen erupted across the Gaza Strip on
Thursday, effectively destroying a three-day-old truce that brought a brief
period of quiet to the volatile area.

The new wave of street battles killed at least six people, one of them a
security officer, and left dozens more wounded, according to Channel 2.

The violence broke out in the central Gaza town of Bureij on Thursday
afternoon after Hamas militants hijacked a convoy delivering supplies to the
Fatah-allied security forces, security officials said.

Security reinforcements were seen flooding into the town.

Soon after, separate gun battles broke out in Gaza City and in northern Gaza
outside a military intelligence post. Security officials said Hamas
militants fired a rocket was fired at the post.

A Fatah member was kidnapped in northern Gaza during the clashes, security
officials said.

Also in Gaza, unknown gunmen opened fire early Thursday at Hamas spokesman
Fawzi Barhoum as he drove with three bodyguards in his white sedan toward an
impromptu checkpoint near Gaza City, Hamas said. There were no casualties. A
Hamas announcement blamed "coup-seekers," meaning militants from the rival
Fatah party.

Later Thursday, gunmen in a car shot at Islam Shahwan, a spokesman for a
Hamas militia, Shahwan said, blaming the shooting on Fatah-affiliated
security officers. One Hamas member was wounded, he said.

Other sporadic shooting attacks were reported Thursday, including one that
wounded a Hamas militant.

The early incidents didn't unravel the cease-fire, but on Thursday afternoon
Hamas gunmen ambushed an official convoy guarded by the presidential guard
and hijacked two trucks filled with tents, medical kits and toilets,
security officials said. The attack sparked the new fighting.

"How can they attack the presidential guards like that when there is a
cease-fire," said Wael Dahab, a presidential guard spokesman.

In the wake of the fighting, security officials re-established roadblocks
near President Mahmoud Abbas' official residence in Gaza City. Masked
security officers took up positions throughout the streets.

Masked Hamas gunmen also carjacked a police jeep near the United Nations
headquarters in Gaza City, stealing the weapons of those in the vehicle,
security officials said.

The truce was declared early Tuesday by leaders of Fatah and Hamas and was
meant to bring an end to internal fighting that has left more than 60
Palestinians dead since early December, though it did not resolve the
underlying animosity between the groups.

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