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Hamas gunmen storm Palestine TV in Gaza Strip

Written by: Staff
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GAZA, June 5 (Reuters) Dozens of Hamas gunmen stormed an office of Palestine TV in the Gaza Strip today, destroying broadcasting equipment and accusing the network of favouring the rival Fatah faction in its coverage, employees said.

It was the first such armed assault on the official television network in the Palestinian territories since Hamas, an Islamic militant group, formed a government in March after defeating Fatah in a January election.

''Dozens of Hamas gunmen and members of a back-up force of the Interior Minister ... are setting equipment on fire,'' said Mohammad ad-Dahoudi, director of Palestine Television, which is under the control of President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.

Hamas spokesman Sami al-Zuhri denied Hamas was involved in the attack.

Firing bullets into broadcasting equipment, computers and a transmitter that feeds reports from Khan Younis to a studio in Gaza City, the gunmen shouted that Palestine TV was distorting the truth and that its coverage had a pro-Fatah slant.

Two employees said they were beaten by the gunmen.

''They made us come out raising our hands high up,'' one employee told Reuters by telephone. ''The whole place is ruined.'' The employee said the gunmen raided the facility after attending a funeral for a Hamas member killed in a shooting yesterday. Hamas blamed Fatah gunmen for his death.

Armed violence between rival Palestinian factions has been mounting in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas had deployed a new policing force against Abbas's wishes.

Five Palestinians were killed in clashes between gunmen in Gaza yesterday.

REUTERS KD PM1749

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