Fatah gunmen torch Palestinian parliament
Palestinian factional rivalry erupted into unprecedented violence on Monday as followers of president Mahmud Abbas set fire to the parliament and West Bank cabinet offices.india Updated: Jun 13, 2006 04:05 IST
Palestinian factional rivalry erupted into unprecedented violence on Monday as followers of president Mahmud Abbas set fire to the parliament and West Bank cabinet offices while supporters of the Hamas government tried to storm a security compound in Gaza.
Militants loyal to Abbas's Fatah faction set fire to the ground floor of the parliament building in Ramallah where the flames quickly leapt through the rest of the complex.
Gunmen from the same Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades also torched the cabinet building in Ramallah after hundreds of security officers, staffed largely by Fatah followers, forced their way into the premises and opened fire.
Black smoke spewed into the night sky out of the fourth floor of the five-storey cabinet building as fire engines rushed to the scene but were prevented by militants from trying to extinguish the flames.
Protesting against deadly violence between Fatah faithful and loyalists of the ruling Hamas movement, which today controls government after beating Abbas's party at a January election, Fatah gunmen and security officers smashed windows, destroyed computers and tore up files.
In a bid to contain the situation, Abbas issued an edict placing the Palestinian security forces on a maximum state of alert.
Outside the burning cabinet offices, a masked Al-Aqsa leader who refused to give his name called the protests a "normal response to Hamas aggressions against Palestinian Authority institutions and security service premises".