Hamas clashes with Palestinian Authority forces

Special to World
Monday, September 22, 2003

GAZA CITY Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have clashed amid efforts to recruit the Islamic insurgency group into the new government of Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qurei.

Palestinian sources said Hamas gunmen and PA security forces fought street battles throughout Thursday and into Friday in Gaza City. At least 15 people were injured.

Ten of the wounded were injured by PA gunfire, the sources said. The sources said Hamas gunmen also fired their weapons and two police officers were wounded.

The confrontation began on Wednesday when Hamas insurgents abducted an officer of the PA security service in the Shati refugee camp. PA forces responded and arrested seven Hamas suspects.

On Thursday, hundreds of Hamas supporters marched on PA police headquarters. The supporters hurled stones, burned tires and tried to storm the building in central Gaza City.

PA forces guarding the building opened fire and at least 10 demonstrators were injured. One of them was said to be in critical condition.

Later, Hamas gunmen opened fire on civilians and injured three of them. The sources said the gunmen mistook the civilians for plainclothes PA officers.

A PA official said Hamas would not be allowed to jeopardize national security and would be subject to Palestinian law. Qurei, as his predecessor, Mahmoud Abbas, has pledged not to crack down on Hamas to ensure a ceasefire in the war against Israel.

Qurei was expected to name a 24-member Cabinet over the weekend. At least one Hamas supporter, Mussa Zabout, was expected to be offered a portfolio.

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