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Security chief hurt in Gaza blast

Tareq abu Rajab, also a loyalist to President Mahmoud Abbas, was wounded in an apparent assassination attempt in Gaza.

india Updated: May 20, 2006 18:22 IST

A top Palestinian security chief and loyalist to President Mahmoud Abbas was wounded in an apparent assassination attempt on Saturday when an elevator he was taking at his headquarters in the Gaza Strip exploded.

The incident, in which one of General Intelligence chief Tareq abu Rajab's aides was killed, could inflame tension between gunmen from Abbas's Fatah faction and militants from the rival Hamas movement which heads the government.

It followed heated gun battles between Fatah and Hamas supporters in the Gaza Strip on Friday in which five people were wounded.

The fighting erupted after a top Hamas official was caught trying to smuggle 639,000 euros ($804,000) into Gaza.

Rajab was taking an elevator surrounded by a phalanx of bodyguards and aides when it exploded, apparently when a bomb planted in the lift shaft was detonated, security sources said.

Abbas immediately ordered an inquiry be established to "investigate the assassination attempt against the head of general security Tareq abu Rajab ... and to speedily punish those behind the assassination attempt".

Rajab -- the head of the feared "mukhabarat" intelligence service -- was among 11 people wounded in the explosion at his heavily guarded headquarters in northern Gaza.

One of his aides, who was also his nephew, died in the blast.

Rajab and several others wounded in the explosion would be transferred to an Israeli hospital for treatment.

Security officials did not say who they suspected was behind the assassination attempt.   Continued...