Five killed in renewed Hamas-Fatah clashes

Updated on May 14, 2007 09:09 AM IST

Five Palestinians were killed in renewed clashes between the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in three separate incidents in the Gaza Strip.

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IANS | By, Gaza City

Five Palestinians were killed in renewed clashes between the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in three separate incidents in the Gaza Strip.

Late on Sunday following the renewed clashes, the two groups with Egypt mediation reached an agreement to end hostilities and pull militants off the streets overnight, said Fatah spokesman Abdul Hakim Awad.

No further details were given on the agreement.

Two Fatah activists, including Bahaa Abu Jarad, a senior militant in the movement, were gunned down by unknown assailants on Sunday morning in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Hamas denied any involvement in the deaths.

Following the incident, dozens of Fatah activists took to the streets in northern Gaza to protest the killings.

In the afternoon, two Palestinians, one from Hamas and one from Fatah, were killed in renewed clashes that left 12 others injured including three in critical condition.

Sulaiman al-Ashi, a reporter who worked for a Hamas-affiliated newspaper, was abducted and killed on Sunday evening by Fatah activists, officials from the Islamic movement said.

Spokesmen from Hamas and Fatah traded accusations over responsibility for the clashes.

Witnesses said that the afternoon fighting began after a group of Hamas militants attacked security forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Fatah faction, near the presidential residence in south-west Gaza City.

Two members of Hamas were abducted in the Gaza Strip, apparently by Fatah activists who also took the daughter of one of the Hamas members. All three were later released.

The renewed violence comes as Interior Minister Hani al-Qawasmeh attempts to implement a new security plan for the violence-plagued Gaza Strip. Qawasmeh has threatened to resign from his post if he is not given more control over security forces in the Gaza Strip.

The Islamic movement Hamas and the more secular Fatah party are partners in the Palestinian Authority's coalition government, which was formed following an agreement between the two groups signed in March in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, intended to end infighting, primarily in the Gaza Strip.

Sunday's violence is the deadliest since the Mecca deal was reached.

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