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Five bystanders killed in Gaza shootings-medics

Written by: Staff

GAZA, June 4 (Reuters) Palestinian gunmen killed five bystanders in two separate shooting incidents in the Gaza Strip today as tension between rival factions in the impoverished territory deteriorated even further.

In the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis gunmen killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and another family member and wounded her husband and his brother, a Hamas militant, hospital sources said.

Witnesses said gunmen, whose identity was unclear, shot at local Hamas leader Mohammad al-Ghalban as he was travelling in a car with family members after dark in the town.

The motive for the shooting was not known, but local Hamas militia blamed rival Fatah gunmen and deployed in the streets as tensions rose.

Ghalban and his brother, who was critically wounded, were being treated at a Gaza hospital, medics said.

In a separate incident in Gaza City, three bystanders were killed in the crossfire as Hamas militants returned fire at unknown gunmen, local witnesses said. The three victims, all male, were pronounced dead at a Gaza hospital, medics said.

The incident took place not far from the home of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

The deaths are the first since a Palestinian security officer was killed and seven were wounded in clashes between rival Fatah and Hamas factions in Gaza last Thursday, underscoring growing tension in the coastal strip.

The clashes have disrupted a tenuous peace in place since President Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah's leader, and Haniyeh's Hamas-led government began talks last month to try to end violence in Gaza.

Reuters PDS VP0325

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