Israeli soldiers have shot dead an 18-year-old Palestinian north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian medical and security sources have said.

Ali Obedat, a Palestinian Red Crescent spokesman, identified the man as Mohammed Mubarak and said he was found with three bullet wounds in his back.

The shooting, which took place on Wednesday just north of the Ofra settlement, was confirmed by the Israeli army in a statement that said a "terrorist" had opened fire at troops and they had returned fire, hitting him.

The Israeli military said its forces shot Mubarak after he opened fire at an army post north of the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Witnesses told the AFP news agency that Mubarak was not armed, and had been harassed by soldiers who made him remove his clothes.

Mahmoud Mubarak, the deceased's father, who is a local-elected leader of the Jalazun camp, also said his son did not have a weapon.

"He was shot while he was doing his job," Mubarak said. "All the eyewitnesses who live there told me he was killed in cold blood."

The Israeli army distributed pictures of a gun it said Mubarak had used to open fire.

Soldiers felt "an imminent threat to their lives" and shot Mubarak, the military said, adding that 12 bullet casings were found at the scene.

Ohad Shoham, the soldier who says he shot Mubarak, told Israeli Army Radio the man was firing a gun.

'Cold-blooded killing'

Palestinian sources said Mubarak was working as a labourer for a local construction company working on the road connecting Ramallah and Nablus, as part of a USAID-funded project.

Maher Ghneim, the Palestinian housing and public works minister, condemned the Israeli army's "cold-blooded killing" of Mubarak, during his work on a project coordinated by the ministry.

Ghneim called on international organisations to investigate the incident, and slammed Israeli media for "distorting the story" by saying Mubarak had initially opened fire at the soldiers.

Mubarak was to be buried covered in the yellow flag of the Fatah movement his father represented.

It was the first time this year that a Palestinian has been killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank. Last year, 27 West Bankers were killed by the army, UN statistics show.

Source: Agencies