Nablus (West Bank), Dec 22: Gunmen loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah opened fire on Hamas members in the occupied West Bank today, wounding at least two people, hospital officials and witnesses said.
They said the gunmen opened fire as about 200 Hamas activists and armed men were preparing for a rally in the city of Nablus. There was no immediate comment from Fatah.
Violence between the rival factions has erupted since Abbas called for early elections a week ago. The two sides agreed on a ceasefire in Gaza earlier this week following days of fighting that killed 10 people in the strip.The Islamic group Hamas, which is sworn to Israel's destruction, defeated Abbas's long-dominant Fatah party in elections in January.
Hamas has rejected Abbas's call for fresh parliamentary and presidential elections and said such a move amounts to a ''coup''.
Unknown gunmen clashed with Hamas fighters near the Gaza City home of the Hamas-led government's Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar early today, Palestinian witnesses said.
Local residents said they suspected the gunmen were from a local clan rather than Fatah. No casualties were reported.
Abbas made his election call after talks on forming a unity between Fatah and Hamas collapsed. The aim had been to establish a cabinet that could end Western isolation of the government.