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Hamas accuses rival of PM attack
by BBC (reposted)
Friday Dec 15th, 2006 6:27 AM
The Palestinian Hamas group has accused a key figure in the rival Fatah faction of trying to assassinate Prime Minister Ismail Haniya as he returned to Gaza.

Hamas accused Mohammad Dahlan of orchestrating the attack as Mr Haniya crossed Gaza's border with Egypt.

Clashes have now broken out between Hamas and Fatah supporters in Gaza City and the West Bank town of Ramallah.

A bodyguard died and Mr Haniya's son was among five hurt in the gun battle late on Thursday at the Rafah border.

Mr Dahlan has rejected Hamas's accusations of involvement, saying that Hamas, the governing party, was trying to "mask its failures".

'Grave threat'

Correspondents say the attack on Mr Haniya - and Hamas's open accusation of such a prominent opponent - have dramatically raised the stakes in the tense political struggle in the Palestinian territories.

Shooting erupted in Gaza City on Friday between masked Hamas gunmen and Palestinian police allied to Fatah. An exchange of gunfire between the factions was also reported in Ramallah.

by UK Guardian (reposted)
Friday Dec 15th, 2006 6:28 AM
Violence between rival Palestinian groups continued today, after the ruling Hamas organisation accused forces allied to Fatah of trying to assassinate the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh.

The attack yesterday on the prime minister's entourage as he crossed into Gaza from Egypt killed one of Mr Haniyeh's bodyguards and wounded his son, raising renewed fears of outright war between the organisations' supporters.

The prime minister is a member of Hamas, the radical Palestinian group that took power in a general election in March.

Today, angry Hamas officials blamed Mohammed Dahlan, a senior member of the more moderate Fatah group headed by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, of being behind the attack.

"Mohammed Dahlan bears the direct responsibility for the assassination attempt which targeted the prime minister and he bears responsibility for the blood of the martyrs in the incident," a Hamas spokesman told a news conference in Gaza.

"The dirty hands which assassinated and wounded the bodyguards of the prime minister and attacked the prime minister's convoy will not escape punishment," he added.

But a Fatah spokesman said: "These accusations are not true, as long as no investigation to find out has been conducted." He called the accusation "a grave threat to Palestinian unity".

With tensions running high, Hamas and Fatah gunmen exchanged fire today on the streets of Gaza City and the West Bank city of Ramallah. Also in Ramallah, security forces loyal to Mr Abbas beat Hamas supporters with clubs at a rally. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Tensions between the groups have regularly turned violent in recent months despite lengthy talks to try to form a national unity government.