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Hamas and Fatah gunmen exchange fire in Gaza

Written by: Staff

GAZA, Apr 23 (Reuters) Fatah gunmen stormed into the Palestinian Health Ministry today, exchanging fire with a Hamas security detail, witnesses said.

At least three people were wounded in the violence, which followed pledges by the Fatah faction of President Mahmoud Abbas and the new Hamas-led government to end fighting that erupted over the weekend.

About 20 people were hurt in armed confrontations in Gaza yesterday between students and militants from the two rival movements. It was most serious internal fighting since Hamas won the Palestinian election in January.

In the latest clash, gunmen from Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades took over the Health Ministry building, exchanging fire with Hamas bodyguards of Health Minister Basim Naeem, the witnesses said.

The violence followed the condemnation by exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal of Abbas's veto of a new Gaza security force formed by Hamas and headed by a top militant.

The appointment of Jamal Abu Samhadana, head of the Popular Resistance Committees which has often attacked Israel, as leader of the new Gaza police force was widely seen as an attempt by Hamas to strengthen its grip on the Interior Ministry.

Abbas cancelled the decision, a veto Meshaal said assisted a Western campaign to isolate the Palestinian government.


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