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Gaza gunmen briefly take control of govt building

Written by: Staff
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GAZA, March 5 (Reuters) Gunmen briefly took over a Palestinian government building in Gaza today, firing into the air and demanding their salaries be paid.

The siege, by about 30 members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades linked to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, ended without injury.

A spokesman for the masked gunmen, Abu Ayoub, said Fatah ''should take responsibility'' for paying government salaries.

''But we may have to turn to Hamas if our demands are not met in the future,'' he said.

The Islamic militant group Hamas trounced Fatah in the Jan.

25 Palestinian parliamentary election and is in the process of forming a new Palestinian government.

Israel froze tax revenue transfers to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority starting this month in a bid to isolate the Hamas, whose charter calls for the Jewish state's destruction.

As a result of the cut off, the Palestinian Authority will be about two weeks late paying salaries, the Palestinian economy minister said last week.

As many as one in four Palestinians is dependent on wages from the Palestinian Authority, prompting warnings from an international envoy and the United Nations that violence could break out if salaries were not paid.

A power struggle among militant factions, gangs and security forces has intensified since Hamas's election victory. Internal unrest has also been growing in Gaza since Israeli troops withdrew in September after 38 years of occupation.

REUTERS SY RN1442

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