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Two Palestinian activists killed near Gaza Strip: army

world Updated: May 22, 2009 13:26 IST

Two Palestinian activists were killed on Friday on the edge of the Gaza Strip as they were preparing to carry out an attack, the army said.

"Earlier this morning, two armed gunmen were identified approaching the Gaza Strip security fence north of the Kerem Shalom Crossing in an attempt to plant explosive devices," the military said in a statement.

An army force "crossed the fence and fired at the gunmen, who also began firing. During the exchange of fire, the gunmen were killed, and on their bodies the forces uncovered an explosive device, two AK-47 rifles, hand grenades and military vests," the statement said.

Israel ended its 22-day military offensive against the Hamas rulers of Gaza on January 18, but Palestinian fighters have since launched sporadic attacks to which Israeli forces usually respond with air strikes on tunnels they say are used to smuggle weapons from Egypt.

The Israeli military says militants have fired more than 200 rockets and mortar rounds at Israel since the end of the offensive.

More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the operation, according to Palestinian figures, while 13 Israelis were killed.