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Archive for Sunday, April 23, 2006

Gunmen clash after treachery accusation

April 23, 2006

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— Violent clashes and mass protests erupted Saturday across the West Bank and Gaza Strip between followers of the militant group Hamas and Fatah rivals, after a Hamas leader accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of treachery.

The two sides traded gunfire and hurled stones and firebombs, escalating a fierce power struggle between militant and moderate factions focused on control over Palestinian security forces.

Abbas said Saturday he would not allow the accusations to plunge the Palestinians into civil war.

The unrest followed the president's moves to take control of all six security forces and Hamas's response that it would form its own shadow army, made up of militants and led by a top fugitive Israel has been hunting for years.

Clashes were ugliest Saturday in Gaza City, where Hamas and Fatah followers traded gunfire and hurled grenades and firebombs. Fifteen people were wounded, two seriously.

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