The body was lying in an alley surrounded by a group of Palestinians.

An anonymous caller told AFP that the soldier had been killed by a bomb planted by al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of the Fatah party led by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

At least 86 Palestinians and an Israeli have been killed since July 5 after an increase in military attacks, which Israel says are intended to secure the release of one of its soldiers seized last month and to prevent fighters firing homemade rockets over the border.

Palestinians in Nablus have been holding rallies in the past few days to protest against Israel's attacks on Lebanon and on their countrymen in the Gaza Strip.