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Gunmen kill Hamas-linked judge
by UK Guardian (reposted)
Wednesday Dec 13th, 2006 6:27 AM
A prominent Islamic judge linked to Hamas was today shot dead by Palestinian gunmen as he arrived at court in the Gaza Strip.
Bassam al-Fara, a civil court judge and a senior member of the faction's armed wing, was killed in the southern town of Khan Younis, Palestinian sources said.

The drive-by shooting came two days after the three young children of a Fatah-allied Palestinian intelligence officer were killed as they were driven to school, sparking renewed conflict between the Hamas and Fatah factions.

Escalating tensions in the area have reduced the chances of the two sides forming a united government, instead pushing them closer to all-out hostilities.

In a statement to reporters, Hamas openly blamed Fatah for today's killing. Fauzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the militant group, said the perpetrators would be brought to justice.

"This is an ugly crime committed against one of the field commanders of the Hamas military wing and one of the prominent figures in Hamas," he said.

"Hamas is not going to forget the blood of its members. It is going to pursue and bring to justice those who were involved in today's crime."

Tawfik Abu Khoussa, a Fatah spokesman, rejected the Hamas accusations. "We condemn all acts of anarchy, whatever may be behind them ... we call on the brothers in Hamas to stop firing accusations before the investigation," he said.

Witnesses to the ambush said four gunmen waited for Mr Fara outside the courthouse, eating their breakfast at a nearby food stand.

When he emerged from a taxi, three of the men grabbed him and forced him to his knees and the fourth pulled out a weapon and shot him.

by BBC (reposted)
Wednesday Dec 13th, 2006 7:11 AM
A member of the Palestinian militant Islamic movement Hamas, Bassam al-Fara, has been killed by gunmen in the southern Gaza Strip.

Mr Fara, who was also a judge, was shot outside the courthouse where he worked in the town of Khan Younis.

The armed wing of Hamas accused gunmen linked to its main political rival, Fatah, of carrying out the killing.

Inter-faction tensions have increased since the killing of three sons of a pro-Fatah security chief on Monday.

Reports say unidentified gunmen dragged Mr Fara from a taxi outside the courthouse and shot him at point blank range.

Witnesses said the gunmen had eaten breakfast in a nearby restaurant while waiting for the arrival of the civil court judge, who was also the local Hamas military commander.

Fatah spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khoussa rejected Hamas accusations that his group was behind the attack.

"The brothers in Hamas must be accurate and not fire accusations before the investigation," he said.


Relations between the two factions are always strained, but the tension has increased significantly following Monday's attack on the car of a senior Fatah security official, says the BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza.

He was not in the vehicle, but three of his three sons, aged between six and 10, were and they all died in the gunfire.