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Hamas hints at talks as chaos reigns in divided Palestine
Islamists strengthen grip in Gaza but western governments, including US, side with Palestinian president in the West Bank
Jubilant Hamas militants cemented their domination over Gaza yesterday but appeared to make conciliatory overtures to their Fatah opponents after a week of intense fighting that has effectively broken Palestine in two.
Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader in Gaza, called for new negotiations with the Fatah leader and Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and urged calm from his own gunmen after they had routed Fatah rivals and embarked on a wave of looting in Fatah offices and homes in the Gaza Strip. Hamas also released 10 senior Fatah officials captured during five days of clashes that killed more than 100 people.
Mr Haniyeh also demanded the release of Alan Johnston, the BBC correspondent kidnapped in Gaza more than three months ago. Last night there were reports that his captors had promised an imminent release, but these could not be independently confirmed.