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Gunmen briefly take over Palestinian Cabinet building

They were protesting the refusal of the new Hamas government to meet their demands for perks and promotions.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2006 16:34 IST

Palestinian gunmen briefly took over the Cabinet building on Thursday, protesting the refusal of the new Hamas government to meet their demands for perks and promotions.

The gunmen were from the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party.

Fatah, which dominated Palestinian politics for decades, was defeated by Hamas in January parliament elections.

About 20 Al Aqsa gunmen seized the three-story Cabinet building in Ramallah for about an hour, before members of the security forces persuaded them to leave.

Many of the gunmen also work in the security forces.

Earlier on Thursday, the group had shut down the Transportation Ministry, forcing employees to leave the building.

An Al Aqsa spokesman said the gunmen were upset over the refusal of the Hamas government to meet their demands.

The spokesman, Kamal Saffaka, said that the previous government, run by Fatah, had awarded them hundreds of taxi licenses as perks. Each license is worth thousands of dollars.

The group also demanded that its members win promotions in the security forces.

First Published: Apr 13, 2006 16:34 IST